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USDA Opens Public Comment Period on GE Wheat Field Trials

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on September 25, 2015 - 4:54pm

Dear BRS Stakeholder, 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making available for a 30-day public comment period its proposed plan to strengthen oversight of genetically engineered (GE) wheat field trials.   The proposed plan calls for all future field trials of GE wheat to be done under APHIS permit, to include requirements for more stringent post-harvest monitoring for volunteer wheat plants. Volunteers are plants that grow following the harvest of a crop. Volunteers are common following field trials of regulated GE plants, but their presence must be appropriately addressed in order to prevent the establishment, and possible spread, of regulated GE plants.     

APHIS is proposing to require that developers apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat because of two recent detections of GE wheat where the plants should not have been growing. In 2013 and 2014, APHIS responded to, and investigated, the detections of GE wheat found growing in unauthorized fields in Oregon and Montana, respectively. No varieties of GE wheat have been deregulated by APHIS. Despite an exhaustive investigation, APHIS could not determine the source of the unauthorized GE wheat in Oregon; while the investigation into the detection in Montana remains open, the unauthorized GE wheat was found at the location of a previous field trial of GE wheat conducted under APHIS’ regulatory oversight. 

APHIS will consider all comments received on or before October 26, 2015. Notice of this comment period closing date is published in the September 25, 2015 Federal Register. 

Comments can be submitted by going to regulations.gov, where relevant documents are also available. 

Upon publication, the Federal Register notice will be available at the Biotechnology Regulatory Services website.

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