[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 46 (Wednesday, March 11, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 10517-10518]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-5372]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 46 / Wednesday, March 11, 2009 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 10517]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 340

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0023]


Introduction of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced 
Through Genetic Engineering

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of public scoping session and extension 
of public comment period.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service (APHIS) is holding a public scoping session for 
issue-focused public meeting(s) to be held in April 2009 on the APHIS 
proposed rule, ``Importation, Interstate Movement, and Release Into the 
Environment of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms.'' The purpose 
of the scoping session is to discuss with all interested parties the 
agenda and format for the April 2009 issue meeting(s).

DATES: The scoping session will be on March 13, 2009, from 9 a.m. to 4 
p.m.

ADDRESSES: The scoping session will be held at USDA Center at 
Riverside, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD, in Conference Room A. For 
directions or facilities information, call (301) 734-8010.
    Other Information: Additional details regarding the format of the 
meeting are available at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/340/
340_index.shtml.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you plan to attend the scoping 
session, please contact Mr. Richard Coker, BRS, APHIS, 4700 River Road 
Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238; (301) 734-5720.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On October 9, 2008, APHIS published in the Federal Register (73 FR 
60007-60048, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0023) a proposal \1\ to revise our 
regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and 
environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. 
The proposed revisions would bring the regulations into alignment with 
provisions of the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) and 
update the regulations in response to advances in genetic science and 
technology and our accumulated experience in implementing the current 
regulations. APHIS sought public comment on the proposal from October 
9, 2008, to November 24, 2008.
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    \1\ To view the proposed rule, supporting documents, and any 
comments we have received, and to submit written comments on the 
proposed rule, go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/
component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0023.
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    On January 16, 2009, APHIS published in the Federal Register (74 FR 
2907-2909, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0023) a notice announcing the 
reopening of the public comment period for the proposed rule for an 
additional 60 days, particularly seeking additional comments on the 
following four issues:
    Issue 1: Scope of the regulation and which GE organisms should be 
regulated.
    Issue 2: Incorporation into APHIS regulations of the Plant 
Protection Act's noxious weed authority.
    Issue 3: Elimination of notification procedure and revision of the 
permit procedure.
    Issue 4: Environmental release permit categories and regulation of 
GE crops that produce pharmaceutical and industrial compounds.
    All four issues were among those that have been raised in the 
comments we have received so far on the proposed rule. In some cases 
commenters identified concerns about these issues, but did not provide 
specific suggestions as to how the proposed rule could be modified to 
address these concerns. By extending the comment period, APHIS is 
seeking to increase the transparency of the rulemaking process and 
elicit more specific information and detailed suggestions regarding 
these issues. We noted in the January 2009 notice reopening the comment 
period that APHIS intends to hold an additional public meeting on the 
proposed rule during the extended public comment period. We intend to 
hold additional public meeting(s) in the greater Washington, DC area in 
April 2009; to ensure that we identify the full range of topics for the 
April meeting's agenda, we will be holding a scoping session on March 
13, 2009.
    The March 13, 2009 scoping session will begin with a discussion of 
the topics to be included on the agenda for the April 2009 meeting(s). 
In a previous notice published in the Federal Register (74 FR 2907-
2909, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0023) APHIS outlined four issues on which 
the Agency is seeking comment. Those four issues will be included in 
the agenda for the April 2009 meeting(s), along with other significant 
issues deemed appropriate by APHIS based on recommendations made by 
interested parties at the scoping session. The meeting participants at 
the March 13 meeting will also be asked to offer recommendations 
regarding collaborative meeting formats that would best ensure agenda 
issues will be frankly and fully explored in the April 2009 meeting(s).
    Those wishing to attend the March 13 scoping meeting should contact 
Mr. Richard Coker at (301) 734-5720. Also contact Mr. Coker if you 
require a sign language interpreter or other special accommodations. 
Those unable to attend the scoping session may submit comments or 
suggestions for the April issue meeting(s) to APHIS at the address 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT no later than March 20, 
2009.

Parking and Security Procedures

    Please note that a fee of $3.00 in exact change is required to 
enter the parking lot at the USDA Center at Riverside. The machine 
accepts $1 bills or quarters.
    Upon entering the building, visitors should inform security 
personnel that they are attending the 340 Proposed Rule public meeting. 
State-issued photo identification is required and all bags will be 
screened. Security personnel will direct visitors to the registration 
tables located outside of Conference Room A on the first floor. 
Registration upon arrival is required for all participants.

Purpose and Nature of the April 2009 Issue Meeting(s)

    The April 2009 issue meeting(s) will provide an opportunity for 
interested persons to discuss in a collaborative forum the key concerns 
that were raised during the comment period on the

[[Page 10518]]

proposed rule with USDA officials and with one another. The issue-
focused meeting(s) will be open to the public and announced in advance 
in the Federal Register. The proceedings will be transcribed, and the 
transcripts will be made part of the rulemaking record. The meeting(s) 
is intended to provide a forum for all interested parties to attend and 
participate in all the discussions to foster focused, substantive 
dialogue on the key issues.
    Tentatively identified agenda items for consideration at the April 
issue meeting(s) include the four issues outlined above from the 
January 16, 2009 Federal Register notice.

Extension of Comment Period

    APHIS is extending the comment period for the proposed rule, which 
currently closes on March 17, 2009, until 60 days following the April 
meeting(s) in order to include in the administrative record the 
transcripts of the scoping session and public meeting(s), written 
comments submitted by persons unable to attend the meeting(s), and 
other written comments submitted by interested parties on the matters 
addressed at the public meeting(s). Persons wishing to submit written 
comments on the proposed rule may continue to do so until 60 days after 
the April public meeting(s) through the Regulations.gov Web site (see 
footnote 1). The new date for the close of the comment period will be 
provided in our notice announcing the date and other details of the 
April 2009 issue meeting(s). We will accept all comments we receive 
between March 18, 2009 (the day after the close of the current comment 
period) and the date of the notice that we will publish to announce the 
date(s) of April 2009 issue meeting(s) and formally reopen the comment 
period.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 9th day of March 2009.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E9-5372 Filed 3-9-09; 4:15 pm]
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