APHIS Accepting Public Comments on Draft Guide for Submitting Permit Applications for Microorganisms
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced on March 23, 2023, the availability of a draft guide detailing the information requirements and process for submitting permit applications for microorganisms developed using genetic engineering. The draft Guide for Submitting Permit Applications for Microorganisms Developed Using Genetic Engineering under 7 CFR Part 340 is intended to assist developers with preparing a permit application for movement activities with modified microorganisms under 7 C.F.R. Part 340 (Movement of Organisms Modified or Produced through Genetic Engineering). The draft guide states that genetic engineering is defined in 7 C.F.R. Section 340.3 as “techniques that use recombinant, synthesized, or amplified nucleic acids to modify or create a genome.” According to the draft guide, regulated microorganisms include plant pests and other modified microorganisms that could pose a plant pest risk. Developers require a permit for regulated activities involving any modified microorganism that:
- Meets the definition of a plant pest in Section 340.3; or
- Is not a plant but has received deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from a plant pest, as defined in Section 340.3, and the DNA from the donor organism is either capable of producing an infectious agent that causes plant disease or encodes a compound that is capable of causing plant disease; or
- Is a microorganism used to control plant pests and could pose a plant pest risk.
Comments on the draft guide are due May 22, 2023. APHIS states that it will consider all comments received by May 22, 2023, prior to issuing the final version of the guide.