The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is considering amending its biotechnology regulations to address advances in biotechnology and various issues previously raised by stakeholders, and is seeking comment on a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
Public input is an important first step in this process, and APHIS is seeking comments on potential environmental impacts and issues that should be considered as the Agency drafts the programmatic environmental impact statement (pEIS). The goal of the pEIS will be to address potential changes to the Agency’s biotechnology regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms (7 CFR part 340).
APHIS’ intent in revising its biotechnology regulations is to more effectively protect plant health by focusing on potential risks posed by certain GE organisms rather than the method used to produce the product. As required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), APHIS must evaluate the potential impacts to the environment that may result from its actions.
APHIS will thoroughly review and consider all public input submitted during the 30-day comment period on the notice of intent and use the information as it works to complete, and then publish, the draft pEIS and a draft proposed rule. The public and stakeholders will also have ample opportunity to review and comment on each of these proposed documents in support of APHIS’ goal of updating its biotechnology regulations.This notice may be viewed in the Federal Register. The public can submit comments on the NOI for 30 days through July 30, 2018, at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2018-0034.