WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The USDA is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate a rice genetically engineered (GE) to be tolerant to herbicides marketed under the brand name LibertyLink.

In 1999, after thorough safety evaluations, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) deregulated two similar LibertyLink rice lines. Under petition, APHIS would extend its deregulation from the original two lines to include the rice line known as LLRICE601.

On Aug. 18, USDA announced that trace amounts of this regulated GE rice were detected in samples taken from commercial long grain rice. A review of the scientific data by USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that there were no human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with this GE rice.

The petition for deregulation, submitted by Bayer CropScience, is in accordance with APHIS' regulations concerning the introduction of GE organisms and products. APHIS has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for LLRICE601. The scientific evidence indicates there are no environmental, human health or food safety concerns associated with this GE rice.

Notice of this action was scheduled for publication in Friday's Federal Register. USDA is seeking comment on the petition and invites comments on the EA. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Oct. 10.

Send an original and three copies of comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0140, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. Comments may be submitted via the Internet at www.regulations.gov. Comments are posted on the Web site and may also be viewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.

SOURCE: USDA news release.