USDA/APHIS Announces Public Scoping Session and Extension of Comment Period for its Proposed Rule on Genetically Engineered Organisms

March 10, 2009

By Ricardo Carvajal –      

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) plans to hold public meetings in the Washington D.C. area in April to address issues raised by its proposal to revise its regulations on the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of genetically engineered organisms.  In a previous Federal Register notice (74 Fed. Reg. 2907), APHIS requested comment on the following four issues:

(1) Scope of the regulation and which [Genetically Engineered (“GE”)]  organisms should be regulated;
(2) Incorporation into APHIS regulations of the Plant Protection Act’s noxious weed authority;
(3) Elimination of notification procedure and revision of the permit procedure;
(4) Environmental release permit categories and regulation of GE crops that produce pharmaceutical and industrial compounds.

These four issues will be included in the agenda for the April public meetings.  The dates of those meetings have yet to be announced.  However, APHIS has announced a scoping session scheduled for March 13 to consider recommendations for additional issues to include in the agenda for the April public meetings.  According to a prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice announcing the scoping session, APHIS will also welcome recommendations for what meeting format to use so as to “best ensure agenda issues will be frankly and fully explored.”  In addition, APHIS is extending the comment period for the proposed rule until 60 days after the April meetings (the current comment period would have closed on March 17).  Transcripts of the scoping session and the public meetings will be part of the administrative record for the proposed rule.

Categories: Foods