Action Alert: Help Stop GE Eucalyptus Trees in US South: Comments by Monday 3/12

Please forward widely
Comments needed by March 12!

Help STOP planting of flowering GE Eucalyptus tree field trials in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina

Note: Please submit comments to the USDA to ban the release of dangerous and destructive genetically engineered trees into the environment.  Information on the USDA’s approval of new test plots of flowering GE eucalyptus trees is below  (engineered for reduced lignin, cold tolerance and altered flowering).  To submit comments, click here.  For language to use in your comments, see below.

For more on the dangers of GE trees, go to: http://nogetrees.org.  To sign our petition to the USDA demanding a ban on GE trees, click here.

Language to use in submitting comments:

Eucalyptus trees are introduced organisms in the U.S. and are documented as invasive pests in California and Florida.  The cold tolerance trait could vastly expand the range of this GE eucalyptus tree–and hence enhance its ability to invade native ecosystems.  Experience in California and other parts of the world has clearly demonstrated that when eucalyptus escape, it is next to impossible to eradicate them.

Court decisions on genetically engineered perennial organisms including GE bentgrass and GE alfalfa, demonstrate a growing legal foundation around the potential escape of perennial GE organisms, even in field trials.

In addition, the U.S. Forest Service has stated that plantings of eucalyptus lower water tables, and affect groundwater recharge and local stream flows, in some cases eliminating seasonal streams. This is of particular concern in light of existing drought conditions in parts of the South.  They state, “[eucalyptus] water use is at least 2-fold greater than most other native forests in the southeastern US.”

In dry regions or areas where droughts occur, eucalyptus are at high risk of catching fire.  Wildfires in Oakland California in 1991 and in Australia in 2009, both fueled by eucalyptus trees, killed scores of people and caused billions in losses.

The fatal fungal pathogen, Crytococcus Gattii has been found in the U.S.  It can cause fatal fungal meningitis among people and animals that inhale its spores.  One of the eucalyptus species used in the GE eucalyptus hybrids (E. Grandis) is a known host for Cryptococcus Gattii.  Creating extensive habitat for this fatal fungal pathogen is dangerous and foolhardy.

ArborGen’s petition must be rejected and all of their GE eucalyptus field trials removed before it is too late.

Thank you!

Please send a donation to support the important work of the STOP GE trees Campaign

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The Daily Journal of the United States Government

Notice
ArborGen, LLC; Availability of an Environmental Assessment for Controlled Release of a Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Hybrid

A Notice by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on 02/10/2012

This article has a comment period that ends in 26 days (03/12/2012)SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT

Publication Date: Friday, February 10, 2012
Agencies:Department of Agriculture & Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Action: Notice.
Dates: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before March 12, 2012.
Page: 7123-7124 (2 pages)
Document Citation: 77 FR 7123
Agency/Docket Number: Docket No. APHIS-2011-0130
Document Number: 2012-3189
Shorter URL: https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-3189

SUMMARY

We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment for a proposed controlled field release of a genetically engineered clone of a Eucalyptushybrid. The purpose of the field release is to assess the effectiveness of gene constructs intended to confer cold tolerance, to test the efficacy of genes introduced to alter lignin biosynthesis, to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter growth, and to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter flowering. We are making the environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment.

We will consider all comments that we receive on or before March 12, 2012.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0130-0001

Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2011-0130, 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-2011-0130 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) 690-2817 before coming.

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.

To obtain copies of the environmental assessment, contact Ms. Cynthia Eck at (301) 734-0667; email: 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 February 21, 2011, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) received a permit application (APHIS No. 11-052-101rm) from ArborGen, LLC, in Summerville, SC, for a controlled field release of genetically engineered Eucalyptus hybrids in six locations encompassing a total of 14.7 acres in the States of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Five of these locations currently have active APHIS permits (08-011-106rm, 08-014-101rm, 09-070-10rm, 10-112-101r, and 11-041-101rm) for environmental release of genetically engineered Eucalyptus hybrids in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The sixth site in South Carolina has been listed as a holding site for genetically engineered trees in previous APHIS permits and notifications and is a new location for the release of genetically engineered Eucalyptus. ArborGen is requesting that trees be allowed to flower at four locations in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. At two locations in South Carolina, ArborGen has requested to release trees in containers and have indicated they will not allow these trees to flower at these locations.

Permit application 11-052-101rm describes Eucalyptus trees derived from a hybrid of Eucalyptus grandis×Eucalyptus urophylla. The purpose of the field tests is to assess the effectiveness of gene constructs intended to confer cold tolerance; to test the efficacy of genes introduced to alter lignin biosynthesis; to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter growth; and to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter flowering. In addition, the trees have been engineered with a selectable marker that confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin. These DNA sequences were introduced into Eucalyptus trees using disarmed Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

The subject Eucalyptus trees are considered regulated articles under 7 CFR part 340 because they were created using donor sequences from plant pests.

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 under permit of these genetically engineered Eucalyptus trees, APHIS has prepared an environmental assessment (EA). The 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).

The EA may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site or in our reading room. (Instructions for accessing Regulations.gov and information on the location and hours of the reading room are provided under the heading ADDRESSES at the beginning of this notice.) In addition, copies may be obtained by calling or writing to the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of February 2012.

Kevin Shea,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

[FR Doc. 2012-3189 Filed 2-9-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-34-P

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