The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on two documents related to the potential deregulation of a cotton variety genetically engineered (GE) to have ultra-low levels of gossypol in its seed. Gossypol is a naturally occurring compound in the pigment of cotton plants and protects them from pests and diseases. This GE variety maintains protective levels of gossypol in the plants, but the compound is significantly reduced in seed. The documents are a draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) that analyzes the potential issues and environmental impacts, and a draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment (dPRA) that examines any plant pest risks.
Use of cottonseed meal, a byproduct of cotton commonly used in food and animal feed, is currently limited because gossypol is potentially toxic in higher concentrations. With lower levels of gossypol in cotton, the cottonseed meal can be used more readily.
This notice may be viewed in the Federal Register. The public will be able to submit comments on the dEA and dPRA for 30 days through August 31, 2018, at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2017-0097.APHIS will thoroughly review and consider all public input submitted during the comment period, and use the information as we work to complete, and then publish, final environmental documents and our regulatory determination.