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April 1, 2024

APHIS Seeks Comment on Draft EIS for Deregulation of Maize Developed Using Genetic Engineering

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced on March 22, 2024, that it has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and draft plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) evaluating the potential environmental impacts and plant pest risk that may result from the approval of a petition for nonregulated status for maize developed using genetic engineering for dicamba, glufosinate, quizalofop, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid resistance with tissue-specific glyphosate resistance facilitating the production of hybrid maize seed. 89 Fed. Reg. 20424. APHIS states in its March 21, 2024, press release that it prepared these documents in response to a petition from Bayer CropScience U.S. seeking to deregulate their MON 87429 corn cultivar. According to APHIS, Bayer states in its petition that “the MON 87429 cultivar is intended for hybrid seed production and is unlikely to pose plant pest risks.” The draft EIS examines potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts that may result from approving Bayer’s petition to deregulate its MON 87429 corn cultivar. The draft PPRA examines potential plant pest risks. Comments on the draft EIS and draft PPRA are due May 6, 2024.

AHPIS notes that it published Bayer’s petition on May 8, 2020, and solicited public comments that it then used to define the scope and determine the appropriate environmental documents to prepare for a fully informed decision on Bayer’s petition. In reviewing the public comments and information received, APHIS concluded that an EIS rather than an environmental assessment is necessary to assess the potential impacts to the environment from deregulating MON 87429 maize. On April 28, 2021, as part of its scoping process, APHIS published a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for Bayer’s petition and requested public comment to help identify alternatives and relevant information, studies, and/or analyses APHIS should consider in the draft EIS. APHIS states that it evaluated all comments received on the NOI for the EIS. A summary of the comments received and APHIS’ response to those comments are provided in Appendix 1 of the draft EIS.