[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 91 (Wednesday, May 11, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27303-27304]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11485]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2011-0023]


Monsanto Co.; Availability of Petition, Plant Pest Risk 
Assessment, and Environmental Assessment for Determination of 
Nonregulated Status for Corn Genetically Engineered for Drought 
Tolerance

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 received a petition from the Monsanto Company 
seeking a determination of nonregulated status for corn designated as 
MON 87460, which has been genetically engineered for drought tolerance. 
The petition has been submitted in accordance with our regulations 
concerning the introduction of certain genetically engineered organisms 
and products. We are soliciting comments on whether this genetically 
engineered corn is likely to pose a plant pest risk. We are making 
available for public comment the Monsanto petition, our plant pest risk 
assessment, and our draft environmental assessment for the proposed 
determination of nonregulated status.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before July 
11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2011-0023 to submit or view comments and 
to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send one copy of 
your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2011-0023, 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-2011-0023.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on this 
docket 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.
    Availability of Documents: The petition, draft environmental 
assessment, and plant pest risk assessment are on available on the 
Regulations.gov Web site (see link above) or on the APHIS Web site at 
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p.pdf, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p _dea.pdf, and http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p _dpra.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Evan Chestnut, Policy Analyst, 
Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 147, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-0942, e-mail: 
evan.a.chestnut@aphis.usda.gov. To obtain copies of the petition, draft 
environmental assessment, or plant pest risk assessment, contact Ms. 
Cindy Eck at (301) 734-0667, e-mail: cynthia.a.eck@aphis.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under the authority of the plant pest provisions of the Plant 
Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), 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.''
    The regulations in Sec.  340.6(a) provide that any person may 
submit a petition to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS) seeking a determination that an article should not be regulated 
under 7 CFR part 340. Paragraphs (b) and (c) of Sec.  340.6 describe 
the form that a petition for a determination of nonregulated status 
must take and the information that must be included in the petition.
    APHIS has received a petition (APHIS Petition Number 09-055-01p) 
from the Monsanto Company (Monsanto) of St. Louis, MO, seeking a 
determination of nonregulated status for corn (Zea mays L.) designated 
as event MON 87460, which has been genetically engineered for drought 
tolerance, stating that this corn is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk 
and, therefore, should not be a regulated article under APHIS' 
regulations in 7 CFR part 340.
    As described in the petition, an introduced gene called cold shock 
protein B, derived from the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, appears to 
help maintain plant cellular functions and is expected to reduce yield 
loss under water-limited conditions compared to conventional corn. Corn 
event MON 87460 is currently regulated under 7 CFR part 340. Interstate 
movements and field tests of corn event MON 87460 have been conducted 
under permits issued or notifications acknowledged by APHIS.
    Field tests conducted under APHIS oversight allowed for evaluation 
in a natural agricultural setting while imposing measures to minimize 
the risk of persistence in the environment after completion of the 
test. Data are gathered on multiple parameters and used by the 
applicant to evaluate agronomic characteristics and product 
performance. These data are used by APHIS to determine if the new 
variety poses a plant pest risk. Monsanto has petitioned APHIS to make 
a determination that corn event MON 87460 should not be regulated under 
7 CFR part 340.
    In section 403 of the Plant Protection Act, ``plant pest'' is 
defined as any living stage of any of the following that can directly 
or indirectly injure, cause damage to, or cause disease in any plant or 
plant product: A protozoan, a nonhuman animal, a parasitic plant, a 
bacterium, a fungus, a virus or viroid, an infectious agent or other 
pathogen, or any article similar to or allied with any of the 
foregoing. APHIS has prepared a plant pest risk assessment to determine 
if corn event MON 87460 is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk.
    APHIS has also prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) in 
which it presents two alternatives based on its analyses of data 
submitted by Monsanto, a review of other scientific data, and field 
tests conducted under APHIS oversight. APHIS is considering

[[Page 27304]]

the following alternatives: (1) Take no action, i.e., APHIS would not 
change the regulatory status of corn event MON 87460 and it would 
continue to be a regulated article, or (2) approve the petition based 
on a determination of the nonregulated status of corn event MON 87460 
in whole.
    The draft EA has been prepared to provide the APHIS decisionmaker 
with a review and analysis of any potential environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed determination of nonregulated status for 
corn event MON 87460. The draft EA was 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).
    In accordance with Sec.  340.6(d) of the regulations, we are 
publishing this notice to inform the public that APHIS will accept 
written comments regarding the petition for a determination of 
nonregulated status from interested or affected persons for a period of 
60 days from the date of this notice. We are also soliciting written 
comments from interested or affected persons on the plant pest risk 
assessment and the draft EA prepared to examine any potential 
environmental impacts of the proposed determination for the 
deregulation of the subject corn line. The petition, draft EA, and 
plant pest risk assessment are available for public review, and copies 
of the petition, draft EA, and plant pest risk assessment are available 
as indicated under ADDRESSES and FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above.
    After the comment period closes, APHIS will review all written 
comments received during the comment period and any other relevant 
information. All comments received regarding the petition, draft EA, 
and plant pest risk assessment will be available for public review. 
After reviewing and evaluating the comments on the petition, the draft 
EA, plant pest risk assessment, and other data, APHIS will furnish a 
response to the petitioner, either approving or denying the petition. 
APHIS will also publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the 
regulatory status of corn event MON 87460 and the availability of 
APHIS' written environmental decision and regulatory determination.

    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 4th day of May 2011.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-11485 Filed 5-10-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P