EIS required for Enlist and dicamba GE crops
For the dicamba-resistant plants (one soybean and one cotton variety), APHIS previously made available for public review and comment petitions by Monsanto to deregulate the products. The comment period on the petition for the cotton variety recently closed on April 29, 2013. APHIS has received more than 500 individual comments and 31,000 form letters regarding these two petitions.
Monsanto’s response explained that Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton are the seed/crops that will have dicamba resistance.
As similar to Dow, Monsanto “will continue its ongoing education and stakeholder outreach efforts to support the responsible introduction of these technologies in the coming seasons. This work includes product development, training, education and stewardship programs, as well as broad efforts with academics to support further recommendations of these systems in their local geographies.”
Monsanto said that it will work with farmers to support Ground Breakers trials of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in the United States beginning this season and next, as planned; as well as support Ground Breakers trials of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton in the 2014 season. The Monsanto Ground Breakers program allows on-farm testing under permit conditions prior to the commercialization of new technologies.
USDA comments received in response to all of the 2,4-D and dicamba documents have been similar in scope, ranging from the importance of making additional herbicide-resistant crops available for producers to focusing on the potential increased volume of herbicides containing 2,4-D and dicamba and their movement onto non-target crops in surrounding areas, as well as the potential for the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act, APHIS is required to evaluate the potential environmental impacts that could result from a deregulation of new GE plants by the agency. If APHIS finds that its potential regulatory decision may significantly affect the quality of the human environment, the agency must prepare an EIS before making a decision on the proposed Federal action.
With regard to these new herbicide-resistant plants, through its analysis of information submitted by the developers, as well as public comments, APHIS has determined that its regulatory decisions may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. APHIS therefore believes it necessary under NEPA to prepare these two EIS's to further assist the agency in evaluating any potential environmental impacts before we make a final determination regarding the products' regulatory status.
While the EIS's will look more broadly at potential impacts to the environment as a whole, APHIS' regulatory authority is based on The Plant Protection Act and the agency's oversight is specific to evaluating the potential for the GE plants to pose a plant pest risk to crops or other plants.
In preparing the EIS's, APHIS plans to host upcoming public meetings that will be publicized through the Federal Register and the Agency's Web site.