[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 135 (Friday, July 13, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 41356-41357]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-17129]



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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2012-0047]


Monsanto Co.; Availability of Petition for Determination of 
Nonregulated Status of Soybean Genetically Engineered for Herbicide 
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 (APHIS) has received a petition from the Monsanto 
Company (Monsanto) seeking a determination of nonregulated status of 
soybean designated as MON 87708, which has been genetically engineered 
for tolerance to the herbicide dicamba. The petition has been submitted 
in accordance with our regulations concerning the introduction of 
certain genetically engineered organisms and products. We are making 
the Monsanto petition available for review and comment to help us 
identify potential environmental and interrelated economic issues and 
impacts that APHIS may determine should be considered in our evaluation 
of the petition.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
September 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0047-0001.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2012-0047, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2012-
0047 or in our reading room, which 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) 799-7039 before coming.
    The petition is also available on the APHIS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/10_18801p.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. John Turner, Director, 
Environmental Risk Analysis Programs, Biotechnology Regulatory 
Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; 
(301) 851-3954, email: john.t.turner@aphis.usda.gov. To obtain copies 
of the petition, contact Ms. Cindy Eck at (301) 851-3892, email: 
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 (GE) 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 10-188-01p) 
from the Monsanto Company (Monsanto) of St. Louis, MO, seeking a 
determination of nonregulated status of soybean (Glycine max) 
designated as event MON 87708, which has been genetically engineered 
for tolerance to the herbicide dicamba, stating that this soybean 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, soybean event MON 87708 has been 
genetically engineered to contain a gene from the bacteria 
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia that expresses a monooxygenase enzyme that 
rapidly demethylates dicamba rendering it inactive, thereby conferring 
tolerance to the herbicide dicamba. Soybean event MON 87708 is 
currently regulated under 7 CFR part 340. Interstate movements and 
field tests of soybean event MON 87708 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 and other data are used by APHIS to determine if the 
new variety poses a plant pest risk.
    Paragraph (d) of Sec.  340.6 provides that APHIS will publish a 
notice in the Federal Register providing 60 days for public comment for 
petitions for a determination of nonregulated status. On March 6, 2012, 
we published in the Federal Register (77 FR 13258-13260, Docket No. 
APHIS-2011-0129) a notice \1\ describing our process for soliciting 
public comment when considering petitions for determinations of 
nonregulated status for GE organisms. In that notice we indicated that 
APHIS would accept written comments regarding a petition once APHIS 
deemed it complete.
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    \1\ To view the notice, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0129.
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    In accordance with Sec.  340.6(d) of the regulations and our 
process for soliciting public input when considering petitions for 
determinations of nonregulated status for GE organisms, 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. The petition is available for 
public review, and copies are available as indicated under ADDRESSES 
and FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above. We are interested in 
receiving comments regarding potential environmental and interrelated 
economic issues and impacts that APHIS may determine should be 
considered in our evaluation of the petition. We are particularly 
interested in receiving comments regarding biological, cultural, or 
ecological issues, and we encourage the submission of scientific data, 
studies, or research to support your comments. We also request that, 
when possible, commenters provide relevant information regarding 
specific localities or regions as soybean growth, crop management, and 
crop utilization may vary considerably by geographic region.
    After the comment period closes, APHIS will review all written 
comments

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received during the comment period and any other relevant information; 
any substantive issues identified by APHIS based on our review of the 
petition and our evaluation and analysis of comments will be considered 
in the development of our decisionmaking documents.
    As part of our decisionmaking process regarding a GE organism's 
regulatory status, APHIS prepares a plant pest risk assessment to 
assess its plant pest risk and the appropriate Environmental 
Documentation--either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)--in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to provide the Agency with a review 
and analysis of any potential environmental impacts associated with the 
petition request. For petitions for which APHIS prepares an EA, APHIS 
will follow our published process for soliciting public comment (see 
footnote 1) and publish a separate notice in the Federal Register 
announcing the availability of APHIS' EA and plant pest risk 
assessment. Should APHIS determine that an EIS is necessary, APHIS will 
complete the NEPA EIS process in accordance with Council on 
Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR part 1500-1508) and APHIS' 
NEPA implementing regulations (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 9th day of July 2012.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-17129 Filed 7-12-12; 8:45 am]
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