[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 243 (Tuesday, December 19, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 75933-75934]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-21612]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2006-0166]


Environmental Impact Statement; Genetically Engineered Fruit Fly 
and Pink Bollworm

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 
and proposed scope of study.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service intends to prepare an environmental impact statement 
relative to the proposed use of genetically engineered fruit flies and 
pink bollworm in certain plant pest control programs. This notice 
identifies potential issues and alternatives that will be studied in 
the environmental impact statement, requests public comment to further 
delineate the scope of the issues and alternatives, and provides notice 
of public meetings.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
February 20, 2007. We will also consider comments made at public 
meetings to be held in Washington, DC, on January 17, 2007; in Ontario, 
CA, on January 23, 2007; in Tempe, AZ, on January 25, 2007; in Weslaco, 
TX, on January 30, 2007; and in Tampa, FL, on February 1, 2007. Each 
meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., local time.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods: 
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov, select 
``Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service'' from the agency drop-
down menu, then click ``Submit.'' In the Docket ID column, select 
APHIS-2006-0166 to submit or view public comments and to view 
supporting and related materials available electronically. Information 
on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing 
documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close 
of the comment period, is available through the site's ``User Tips'' 
link.
    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies of your 
comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0166, 
Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 
River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your 
comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0166.
    Public Meetings: For the locations of the public meetings regarding 
this notice, see the Supplementary Information section of this notice.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive in our 
reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA 
South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, 
DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, 
please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. David A. Bergsten, Biological 
Scientist, Environmental Services, PPD, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 
149, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238; (301) 734-4883.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is 
considering using genetically engineered fruit flies (Diptera: 
Tephritidae) and pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) in our 
ongoing plant pest control programs for fruit flies and pink bollworm. 
Currently, these programs use a sterile insect technique that involves 
mass-rearing plant pests in a special facility, sterilizing the insects 
by irradiation, and releasing the insects to mate with wild plant 
pests. The release of sterile insects reduces the pest population 
through

[[Page 75934]]

associated decreases in the potential reproduction rate. Genetically 
engineered fruit flies and pink bollworm could augment the sterile 
insect technique by producing only male insects, insects with a genetic 
identification marker, insects that compete more effectively for mates, 
and/or insects that produce no viable offspring.
    Under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), agencies must examine the 
potential environmental effects of proposed Federal actions and 
alternatives. We intend to prepare an environmental impact statement 
(EIS) relative to the proposed use of genetically engineered fruit 
flies and pink bollworm in the plant pest control programs for fruit 
flies and pink bollworm. The EIS will examine the range of potential 
effects that the proposed applications could pose to the human 
environment.
    This notice identifies potential issues and alternatives that we 
will study in the EIS and requests public comment to further delineate 
the issues and the scope of the alternatives.
    We have identified three broad alternatives for study in the EIS.
    Take no action. This alternative contemplates no change to the 
plant pest control programs that use sterile insect technique. It 
represents a baseline against which proposed revisions may be compared.
    Expansion of existing plant pest control programs. This alternative 
contemplates improving the current plant pest control programs by 
expanding rearing operations, irradiation treatment capacity, classical 
genetic selection methods for separation of insect sexes, and the plant 
pest species used in these programs.
    Integrate genetically engineered insects into existing plant pest 
control programs. This alternative contemplates integrating genetically 
engineered fruit flies and pink bollworm into the current plant pest 
control programs.
    We welcome comments on these alternatives and on other issues or 
alternatives that should be examined in the EIS. In addition, we invite 
responses to the following questions:
    Are there any new or greater risks or apparent benefits associated 
with the strategy of using genetic engineering instead of classical 
genetic techniques to develop new insect strains to improve ongoing 
APHIS plant pest control programs? If so, please explain.
    The proposed EIS focuses on the development and use of genetic 
engineering to improve specific APHIS plant pest control programs. Are 
there any unique risks that APHIS should consider in detail for genetic 
engineering of pink bollworm and fruit fly species?
    What are the potential risks of non-target effects associated with 
this technology?
    All comments will be considered fully in developing a final scope 
of study. When the draft EIS is completed, a notice announcing its 
availability and an invitation to comment on it will be published in 
the Federal Register.

Public Meetings

    We are advising the public that we are hosting five public meetings 
on this notice of intent to prepare an EIS. The public meetings will be 
held as follows:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007, in the USDA Jamie L. Whitten Building, 
Room 107-A, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007, in the Marriott Hotel, 2200 East Holt 
Boulevard, Ontario, CA.
Thursday, January 25, 2007, in the Holiday Inn, 915 East Apache 
Boulevard, Tempe, AZ.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007, in the Kika de la Garza Subtropical 
Agricultural Research Center, 2413 East Highway 83, Bldg. 213, Bill 
Wilson Conference Room, Weslaco, TX.
Thursday, February 1, 2007, in the Embassy Suites Hotel Tampa-Airport/
Westshore, 555 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL.

All of the public meetings will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, local 
time.
    A representative of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
will preside at the public meetings. Any interested person may appear 
and be heard in person, by attorney, or by other representative. 
Written statements may be submitted and will be made part of the 
meeting record.
    Registration for each meeting will take place 30 minutes prior to 
the scheduled start of the meeting. Persons who wish to speak at a 
meeting will be asked to sign in with their name and organization to 
establish a record for the meeting. We ask that anyone who reads a 
statement provide two copies to the presiding officer at the meeting.
    The presiding officer may limit the time for each presentation so 
that all interested persons appearing at each meeting have an 
opportunity to participate. Each meeting may be terminated at any time 
if all persons desiring to speak and that are present in the meeting 
room have been heard.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 13th day of December 2006.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-21612 Filed 12-18-06; 8:45 am]
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