[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 91 (Wednesday, May 12, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 26708-26709]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-11437]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0059]


ArborGen, LLC; Availability of an Environmental Assessment and 
Finding of No Significant Impact for a Controlled Release of 
Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Hybrids

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment for 
proposed controlled field releases of a genetically engineered clone of 
a Eucalyptus hybrid. The purpose of this release is to continue 
research on the efficacy of genetic constructs intended to confer cold 
tolerance, alter lignin biosynthesis and alter fertility. After 
assessing the application, reviewing pertinent scientific information, 
and considering comments provided by the public, APHIS has concluded 
that these field releases are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk, nor 
are they likely to have a significant impact on the quality of the 
human environment. Based on its finding of no significant impact, the 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that an 
environmental impact statement need not be prepared for this field 
release.

EFFECTIVE DATE: May 12, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may read the documents referenced in this notice and the 
comments we received 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. Those 
documents are also available on the Internet at (http://
www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/

[[Page 26709]]

biotech--ea--permits.html) and are posted with the previous notice and 
the comments we received on the Regulations.gov Web site at (http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0059).
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at (http://www.aphis.usda.gov).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain copies of the EA, FONSI, and 
response to comments, contact Ms. Cynthia Eck at (301) 734-0667; e-
mail: cynthia.a.eck@aphis.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The regulations in 7 CFR part 340, 
``Introduction of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced Through 
Genetic Engineering Which Are Plant Pests or Which There Is Reason to 
Believe Are Plant Pests,'' regulate, among other things, the 
introduction (importation, interstate movement, or release into the 
environment) of organisms and products altered or produced through 
genetic engineering that are plant pests or that there is reason to 
believe are plant pests. Such genetically engineered organisms and 
products are considered ``regulated articles.'' A permit must be 
obtained or a notification acknowledged before a regulated article may 
be introduced. The regulations set forth the permit application 
requirements and the notification procedures for the importation, 
interstate movement, or release in the environment of a regulated 
article.
    On January 11, 2008, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS) received a permit application (APHIS No. 08-011-106rm) from 
ArborGen, LLC, in Summerville, SC, for a controlled field release of 
genetically engineered Eucalyptus hybrids in 19 locations. On January 
14, 2008, APHIS received a second permit application (APHIS No. 08-014-
101rm) from ArborGen for another controlled release of genetically 
engineered Eucalyptus hybrids in 10 additional locations. Under these 
permits, trees allowed to be planted on 28 sites under previously 
approved permits (APHIS Nos. 06-325-111r, 08-039-102rm, and 08-151-
101r) would be allowed to flower on 27 of the 28 sites. The original 
request was to plant 29 sites and allow 28 to flower, however, one 
location was removed from permit application 08-014-101rm, which 
reduced the number to 28 sites, with 27 allowed to flower. If granted, 
the permits would be issued for 3 years. To continue the field tests 
beyond this 3-year period, the applicant will be required to submit a 
renewal for an additional 3 years.
    Permit applications 08-11-106rm and 08-014-101rm describe 
Eucalyptus trees derived from a hybrid of Eucalyptus grandis X 
Eucalyptus urophylla. The purpose of this release is to continue 
research on the efficacy of genetic constructs intended to confer cold 
tolerance, alter lignin biosynthesis and alter fertility. In addition, 
the trees have been engineered with the kanamycin resistance selectable 
marker gene (nptII). These DNA sequences were introduced into 
Eucalyptus trees using disarmed Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The subject 
Eucalyptus trees are considered regulated articles under the 
regulations in 7 CFR part 340 because they were created using donor 
sequences from plant pests.
    In a notice\1\ published in the Federal Register on June 3, 2009 
(74 FR 26648-26649, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0059), APHIS announced the 
availability of an environmental assessment (EA) for public review and 
comment for a proposed controlled field release of a genetically 
engineered clone of a Eucalyptus hybrid. Comments on the EA were 
required to be received on or before July 6, 2009. Commenters noted 
that one of the documents cited in the EA, a U.S. Forest Service 
assessment of hydrological impacts from Eucalyptus, was not available 
for review. Subsequently, APHIS published a notice in the Federal 
Register on January 19, 2010 (75 FR 2845, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0059) 
announcing the availability of an amended EA, which included the U.S. 
Forest Service document, and reopened the comment period for the 
environmental assessment an additional 30 days. APHIS also accepted 
comments received in the interim between the two Federal Register 
notices. There were 45 respondents that supported issuance of the 
permit; and 12,462 respondents who were opposed. Further information 
regarding the nature of the comments received, as well as APHIS' 
response to those comments are contained in the response to comments 
document (see ADDRESSES above).
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    \1\ To view the notice, the environmental assessment, and the 
comments we received, go to (http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#docketDetail?R=APHIS-2008-0059)
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    Pursuant to the regulations promulgated under the Plant Protection 
Act, APHIS has determined that this field release is unlikely to pose a 
risk of introducing or disseminating a plant pest. Additionally, based 
upon analysis described in the EA, APHIS has determined that the action 
proposed in Alternative B of the EA - issue the permit with 
supplemental permit conditions - is unlikely to have a significant 
impact on the quality of the human environment. The EA, finding of no 
significant impact (FONSI), and response to comments documents are 
available as indicated in the ADDRESSES sections of this notice. Copies 
may also be obtained from the person listed under the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice.
    To provide the public with documentation of APHIS' review and 
analysis of any potential environmental impacts and plant pest risks 
associated with the proposed release of these Eucalyptus trees, an EA 
and FONSI have been prepared. The EA and FONSI were prepared in 
accordance with (1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the 
Council on Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural 
provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), (3) USDA regulations 
implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing 
Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 
CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.
    Done in Washington, DC, this 10\th\ day of May 2010.

Kevin Shea
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-11437 Filed 5-11-10; 9:22 am]
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