Monsanto GE-corn product deregulated; Syngenta seed gets preliminary OK

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2015 -- USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has decided to deregulate Monsanto Co.'s corn genetically engineered (GE) for protection against corn rootworm and resistance to the herbicide glyphosate.

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The agency also said it has preliminarily determined that it will extend deregulation to a line of GE corn developed by Syngenta Seeds that is resistant to glyphosate and another herbicide, glufosinate. APHIS said it previously deregulated this GE trait in other GE corn plants.

For the Monsanto product, APHIS also announced a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) under the National Environmental Policy Act. APHIS said it made its deregulation decision based on its assessment that GE corn is “unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the U.S.” It said its environmental assessment found that deregulation is “not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.”

Syngenta's product has been given a preliminary FONSI determination. The preliminary determination of nonregulated status will be available for a 30-day comment period once it is published in the Federal Register in the coming days, APHIS said.

The federal Plant Protection Act requires APHIS to evaluate a new corn variety to see if it poses a plant a pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products. If APHIS finds that a new GE plant is unlikely to pose such a risk, then under its regulations, it deregulates the GE plant.

On the APHIS website, Science Adviser Sally McCammon notes that this determination enables the new plant to be cultivated, tested, or used for traditional crop breeding without any additional APHIS action. “Essentially, this determination permits the plant to be widely grown and commercialized,” she wrote. Still, she said, the developer remains subject to oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

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