USDA Announces Reopening of Public Comment Period for Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Plant Pest Risk Assessment for GE Citrus Tristeza Virus Permit

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April 12, 2019

Dear BRS Stakeholder,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announces today that we are reopening the public review and comment period for a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) and preliminary Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) prepared in response to a permit application from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, for the environmental release of genetically engineered (GE) Citrus tristeza virus (CTV).

APHIS is taking this action because after the previous comment period ended on June 25, 2018, a new research paper was published that examined movement of CTV and that could raise questions regarding the transmissibility of GE CTV. APHIS updated the dEIS and PRA to include the latest information and will accept comments for 15 days.

The dEIS comprehensively evaluates the environmental impacts that may result from approving the permit application, and the preliminary PRA analyzes this GE plant virus as a biological control measure to determine whether it poses a risk to plant health.  Applying GE CTV does not involve genetically engineering the trees.  A gene from spinach that enables the production of the defensin protein will be delivered to the tree’s circulatory system as part of the GE CTV.  The purpose of the proposed permit is to use GE CTV as a biological control agent to help manage citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), which poses a significant threat to American citrus trees.

This notice may be viewed in the Federal Register at: Beginning Monday, April 15, the public will be able to submit comments on the dEIS and preliminary PRA for 15 days through April 30, 2019 at: Supporting documents are available now on the News and Information page of the BRS website.