On September 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice of request for comments on changes to requirements for field testing genetically engineered (GE) wheat. The comment period closed on October 26, 2015. USDA is announcing today its decision to require developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat, beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.
The decision to require growers to plant GE wheat under the more stringent permit process rather than the notification process employed in the past, will provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulations at 7 CFR part 340 specify that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimize the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.
This action also strengthens the United States wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.
Changes to Wheat Permitting Requirements