The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it granted nonregulated status for corn genetically engineered (GE) to produce hybrid corn seed that is non-transgenic.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. petitioned APHIS for a determination of nonregulated status for their GE corn event DP-32138-1 in 2008. APHIS prepared a plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) as required by the Plant Protection Act and an environmental assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. On Jan. 5, 2011, both documents and Pioneer's petition were made available for public review and comment, and APHIS received a total of 52 comments from various groups and individuals.

APHIS determined that the corn is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk. The finding is based on the agency's analysis of field and laboratory data submitted by Pioneer, references provided in the petition, peer-reviewed publications, information analyzed in the EA, the PPRA and its review of the comments provided by the public. The corn is therefore no longer subject to APHIS regulations.

DP-32138-1 utilizes Pioneer's seed production technology process to improve the efficiency of hybrid corn seed production. The multistep process yields a non-transgenic male-sterile female parent. This non-transgenic material can then be used for hybrid seed production. The process results in a commercial product that does not contain the DP-32138-1 transgenes. Interstate movements and field trials for DP-32138-1 have been conducted under permits issued or notifications acknowledged by APHIS since 2005.

APHIS seeks public comment on three products

APHIS also announced that it seeking public comments on draft environmental assessment for cotton genetically engineered for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance as well as a soybean genetically engineered for insect resistance and  for soybeans that have been genetically engineered to have a modified fatty acid profile and a tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) prepared a plant pest risk assessment and a draft environmental assessment (EA) to address a request from Bayer CropScience seeking a determination of nonregulated status for cotton that has been genetically engineered (GE) to be tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate and resistant to several lepidopteran pests.

Bayer's GE cotton is a combined-trait cotton developed using conventional breeding techniques. By crossing Bayer's Cry1Ab Cotton (event T304-40) with Bayer's Cry2Ae Cotton (event GHB119), Bayer developed a cotton resistant to several lepidopteran pests and that expresses a glufosinate herbicide tolerance trait. Bayer's cotton is currently regulated by APHIS. Interstate movement, importation and field testing has been conducted under notifications acknowledged by APHIS.

APHIS' risk assessment indicates that Bayer's cotton is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk. APHIS is making available for public comment the Bayer petition, the agency's risk assessment and draft EA for the proposed determination of nonregulated status.

APHIS has prepared this draft EA to consider the potential environmental effects of a determination of nonregulated status consistent with Council on Environmental Quality's regulations implementing National Environmental Policy Act regulations and procedures.

Monsanto's GE soybean, event MON 87701, expresses an insecticidal protein, Cry1Ac, to protect it from lepidopteran insect damage. Event MON 87701 is currently under APHIS regulation. Interstate movements and field trials of MON 87701 have been conducted under permits issued or notifications acknowledged by APHIS since 2002.

APHIS' risk assessment indicates that Monsanto's soybeans are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk. APHIS is making available for public comment the Monsanto petition, the agency's risk assessment and the draft EA for the requested determination of nonregulated status.

APHIS has prepared this draft EA to consider the potential environmental impacts of a determination of nonregulated status for event MON 87701. Preparation of the draft EA is consistent with the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act.

Monsanto's GE soybean, event MON 87705, produces soybean seeds with lower levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acid than those found in non-modified soybean seeds. MON 87705 also expresses tolerance to glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Roundup.

MON 87705 is currently under APHIS regulation. Interstate movements, importations and field testing have been conducted under notifications acknowledged by APHIS.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Aug. 29 for all of the petitions in question.