USDA issues draft environmental assessment for GMO apple

11/08/2013 08:33:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Arctic applesCourtesy Okanagan Specialty Fruits(from left to right) Arctic Granny Smith and golden delicious applesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its draft environmental assessment for an apple genetically engineered to resist browning when sliced.

The document applies to the apple from Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., Summerland, British Columbia.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released for public comment about whether GMO (genetically modified organisms) apples are likely to pose a plant pest risk, according to a Federal Register notice.

The petition from Okanagan stated that the apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and therefore should not be regulated by APHIS.

The company hopes to market the apples that contain the GMO anti-browning trait under the Arctic brand.

APHIS received more than 1,900 comments on Okanagan's original September 2012 petition to identify potential environmental and related economic impacts and issues.

The agency is considering two options: Take no actions, which would continue regulation of the GMO apple, or award them non-regulated status.

At the end of the 31-day period, APHIS will review the comments and can either issue a FONSI—a finding of no significant impact—or require that an environmental impact statement be prepared.

If a FONSI is issued, APHIS can either approve or deny Okanagan's petition.

Deadline to submit comments is Dec. 9.

Read the full notice on the Federal Register.

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