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Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A Protein and the Genetic Material Necessary for its Production; Temporary Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This regulation establishes an extension of the temporary exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and the genetic material necessary for its production on cotton when applied/used as a plant-incorporated protectant. Syngenta Seeds submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), as amended by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA), requesting this extension. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and the genetic material necessary for its production on cotton. The temporary tolerance exemption will expire on May 1, 2006.

DATES:

This regulation is effective April 28, 2005. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before June 27, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

To submit a written objection or hearing request follow the detailed instructions as provided in Unit VIII. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. EPA has established a docket for this action under docket identification (ID) number OPP-2005-0083. All documents in the docket are listed in the EDOCKET index at http://www.epa.gov/​edocket. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in EDOCKET or in hard copy at the Public Information and Records Integrity Branch (PIRIB), Rm. 119, Crystal Mall #2, 1801 S. Bell St., Arlington, VA. This docket facility is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The docket telephone number is (703) 305-5805.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sharlene Matten, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (7511C), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (703) 605-0514; e-mail address: matten.sharlene@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

A. Does this Action Apply to Me?

You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. Potentially affected entities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Crop production (NAICS code 111)
  • Animal production (NAICS code 112)
  • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311)
  • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532)

This listing is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this action. Other types of entities not listed in this unit could also be affected. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes have been provided to assist you and others in determining whether this action might apply to certain entities. To determine whether you or your business may be affected by this action, you should carefully examine the applicability provisions. If you have any questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

B. How Can I Access Electronic Copies of this Document and Other Related Information?

In addition to using EDOCKET (http://www.epa.gov/​edocket/​), you may access this Federal Register document electronically through the EPA Internet under the “Federal Register” listings at http://www.epa.gov/​fedrgstr/​. A frequently updated electronic version of 40 CFR part 180 is available at E-CFR Beta Site Two at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/​ecfr/​.

II. Background and Statutory Findings

On July 26, 2004, Syngenta Seeds, 3054 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2257 submitted a petition (PP 3G6547) to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), as amended by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA), requesting that the temporary tolerance exemption for Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and the genetic material necessary for its Start Printed Page 21963production in cotton found at 40 CFR 180.1247 be amended to include all VIP3A events (VIP stands for vegetative insecticidal protein). As it turns out, however, this particular request was unnecessary as the temporary tolerance exemption found at 40 CFR 180.1247 already includes all VIP3A events. In a subsequent letter dated July 29, 2004, Syngenta Seeds also petitioned the Agency to amend the temporary tolerance exemption found at 40 CFR 180.1247 by extending it from May 1, 2005 to May 1, 2006.

On September 15, 2004, EPA published a Notice in the Federal Register (69 FR 55605; FRL-7675-1) announcing the filing of the Syngenta Seeds petition. This Notice of Filing, however, was incorrect in two respects. First, it reiterated in summary fashion Syngenta Seeds request that the temporary tolerance exemption found at 40 CFR 180.1247 be amended to include all VIP3A events. As noted above, this was unnecessary since that temporary tolerance exemption already includes all VIP3A events. Second, the Notice failed to include Syngenta Seeds' petition to extend the approved time frame for the temporary exemption. In the Federal Register of March 16, 2005 (70 FR 12879) (FRL-7703-3), EPA published a Notice of Correction clarifying that the pesticide petition, 3G6547 from Syngenta Seeds, as summarized and presented in the Agency's September 15, 2004 Notice of Filing, is solely a proposal to amend the temporary tolerance exemption found at 40 CFR 180.1247 by extending it from May 1, 2005 to May 1, 2006.

The National Cotton Council and a private citizen each submitted comments in response to the September 15, 2004 Notice. That same private citizen also submitted similar comments in response to the March 16, 2005 Notice. In addition, a second private citizen submitted comments in response to the March 16, 2005 Notice. The National Cotton Council supported issuance of the temporary tolerance. The first private citizen, however, objected to the issuance of the temporary tolerance based on unspecified environmental and human health effects. The second private citizen objected to the issuance of the temporary tolerance based on possible environmental and health effects of programmed cell death. The Agency understands the commenters' concerns. Pursuant to its authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA has conducted an assessment of the VIP3A insect control proteins and the genetic material necessary for their production in cotton. EPA has concluded that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from dietary exposure to this protein as expressed in cotton

.

Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of the FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the exemption is “safe.” Section 408(c)(2)(A)(ii) of the FFDCA defines “safe ” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Pursuant to section 408(c)(2)(B), in establishing or maintaining in effect an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance, EPA must take into account the factors set forth in section 408(b)(2)(C), which require EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue. . . .” Additionally, section 408(b)(2)(D) of the FFDCA requires that the Agency consider “available information concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues” and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

EPA performs a number of analyses to determine the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide residues. First, EPA determines the toxicity of pesticides. Second, EPA examines exposure to the pesticide through food, drinking water, and through other exposures that occur as a result of pesticide use in residential settings.

III. Toxicological Profile

Consistent with section 408(b)(2)(D) of the FFDCA, EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability and the relationship of this information to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children.

Data have been submitted demonstrating the lack of mammalian toxicity at high levels of exposure to the pure VIP3A proteins. This is similar to the Agency position regarding toxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis products from which this vegetative-insecticidal protein is derived. The requirement for residue data for the derivative protein is consistent with residue data requirements in 40 CFR 158.740(b)(2)(i). For microbial products, further toxicity testing and residue data are triggered by significant acute effects in studies such as the mouse oral toxicity study, to verify the observed effects and clarify the source of these effects (Tiers II and III). The acute oral toxicity data submitted support the prediction that the VIP3A protein would be non-toxic to humans. Male and female mice (11 of each) were dosed with the test material 5,050 milligrams/kilogram/body weight (mg/kg/bwt) (3,675 mg of pure VIP3A protein per kg body weight). Outward clinical signs were observed and body weights recorded throughout the 14-day study. No mortality or clinical signs attributed to the test substance were noted during the study. When proteins are toxic, they are known to act via acute mechanisms and at very low doses (Sjoblad, R.D., J.T. McClintock and R. Engler (1992)). Therefore, since no effects were shown to be caused by this vegetative-insecticidal protein, even at relatively high does levels, it is not considered toxic. The amino acid sequence of VIP3A is not homologous to that of any known or putative allergens described in public data bases. Since VIP3A is a protein, allergenic sensitivities were considered. Current scientific knowledge suggests that common food allergens tend to be resistant to degradation by heat, acid, and proteases, and may be glycosylated and present at high concentrations in the food. Data have been submitted that demonstrate that the VIP3A protein appears to be present in multiple commercial formulations of Bt microbial insecticides at concentrations estimated to be ca. 0.4 to 32 parts per million (ppm). This conclusion is based on the presence of proteins of the appropriate molecular weight and immunoreactivity (by SDS-PAGE and western blot), and quantitation by ELISA. Therefore, it is conceivable that small quantities of VIP3A protein already are present in the food supply because VIP3A (or a very similar protein, based on size and immunoreactivity) appears to be present in currently registered insecticide products used on food crops, including fresh market produce. These commercial Bt products are all exempt from food and feed tolerances.

IV. Aggregate Exposures

In examining aggregate exposure, section 408 of the FFDCA directs EPA to consider available information Start Printed Page 21964concerning exposures from the pesticide residue in food and all other non-occupational exposures, including drinking water from ground water or surface water and exposure through pesticide use in gardens, lawns, or buildings (residential and other indoor uses).

A. Dietary Exposure

The Agency has considered available information on the aggregate exposure levels of consumers (and major identifiable subgroups of consumers) to the pesticide chemical residue and to other related substances. These considerations include dietary exposure under the tolerance exemption and all other tolerances or exemptions in effect for the vegetative-insecticidal protein chemical residue, and exposure from non-occupational sources.

1. Food. Oral exposure, at very low levels, may occur from ingestion of processed cotton seed by products. However, a lack of mammalian toxicity and the digestibility of the vegetative-insecticidal protein have been demonstrated. The use sites of the VIP3A proteins are all agricultural for control of insects.

2. Drinking water exposure. Oral exposure, at very low levels, may occur from drinking water. However, a lack of mammalian toxicity and the digestibility of the vegetative-insecticidal protein have been demonstrated. The use sites for the VIP3A proteins are all agricultural for control of insects.

B. Other Non-Occupational Exposure

1. Dermal exposure. Exposure via the skin is not likely since the vegetative-insecticidal protein is contained within plant cells, which essentially eliminates this exposure route or reduces these exposure routes to negligible.

2. Inhalation exposure. Exposure via inhalation is not likely since the vegetative-insecticidal protein is contained within plant cells, which essentially eliminates this exposure route or reduces this exposure route to negligible.

V. Cumulative Effects

Pursuant to FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D)(v), EPA has considered available information on the cumulative effects of such residues and other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity. These considerations included the cumulative effects on infants and children of such residues and other substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. Because there is no indication of mammalian toxicity to the VIP3A protein, it is reasonable to conclude that there are no cumulative effects for this vegetative-insecticidal protein.

VI. Determination of Safety for U.S. Population, Infants, and Children

FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C) provides that EPA shall assess the available information about consumption patterns among infants and children, special susceptibility of infants and children to pesticide chemical residues and the cumulative effects on infants and children of the residues and other substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. In addition, FFDCA section 408(B)(2)(C) also provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the data base unless EPA determines that a different margin of safety (MOS) will be safe for infants and children. In this instance, based on the available data, the Agency concludes that there is a finding of no toxicity for VIP3A proteins and the genetic material necessary for their production. In the absence of any threshold effects of concern, the Agency has determined that the additional margin of safety is not necessary to protect infants and children. Further, the provisions of consumption patterns, special susceptibility, and cumulative effects do not apply.

VII. Other Considerations

A. Endocrine Disruptors

The safety data submitted show no adverse effects in mammals, even at very high dose levels, and support the prediction that the VIP3A protein would be non-toxic to humans. Therefore no effects on the immune or endocrine systems are expected.

B. Analytical Method(s)

Validated methods for extraction and direct ELISA analysis of VIP3A in cotton seed have been submitted and found acceptable by the Agency.

C. Codex Maximum Residue Level

No Codex maximum residue levels exist for the vegetative-insecticidal protein Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and genetic material necessary for its production in cotton.

VIII. Objections and Hearing Requests

Under section 408(g) of the FFDCA, as amended by the FQPA, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. The EPA procedural regulations which govern the submission of objections and requests for hearings appear in 40 CFR part 178. Although the procedures in those regulations require some modification to reflect the amendments made to the FFDCA by the FQPA, EPA will continue to use those procedures, with appropriate adjustments, until the necessary modifications can be made. The new section 408(g) of the FFDCA provides essentially the same process for persons to “object” to a regulation for an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance issued by EPA under new section 408(d), as was provided in the old sections 408 and 409 of the FFDCA. However, the period for filing objections is now 60 days, rather than 30 days.

A. What Do I Need to Do to File an Objection or Request a Hearing?

You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in this unit and in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number OPP -2005 -0083 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All requests must be in writing, and must be mailed or delivered to the Hearing Clerk on or before June 27, 2005.

1. Filing the request. Your objection must specify the specific provisions in the regulation that you object to, and the grounds for the objections (40 CFR 178.25). If a hearing is requested, the objections must include a statement of the factual issues(s) on which a hearing is requested, the requestor's contentions on such issues, and a summary of any evidence relied upon by the objector (40 CFR 178.27). Information submitted in connection with an objection or hearing request may be claimed confidential by marking any part or all of that information as CBI. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2. A copy of the information that does not contain CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public record. Information not marked confidential may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice.

Mail your written request to: Office of the Hearing Clerk (1900L), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. You may also deliver your request to the Office of the Hearing Clerk in Suite 350, 1099 14th St., NW., Washington, DC 20005. The Office of the Hearing Clerk is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Office of the Hearing Clerk is (202) 564-6255.

2. Copies for the Docket. In addition to filing an objection or hearing request Start Printed Page 21965with the Hearing Clerk as described in Unit VIII.A., you should also send a copy of your request to the PIRIB for its inclusion in the official record that is described in ADDRESSES. Mail your copies, identified by docket ID number OPP-2005-0083, to: Public Information and Records Integrity Branch, Information Resources and Services Division (7502C), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. In person or by courier, bring a copy to the location of the PIRIB described in ADDRESSES. You may also send an electronic copy of your request via e-mail to: opp-docket@epa.gov. Please use an ASCII file format and avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Copies of electronic objections and hearing requests will also be accepted on disks in WordPerfect 6.1/8.0 or ASCII file format. Do not include any CBI in your electronic copy. You may also submit an electronic copy of your request at many Federal Depository Libraries.

B. When Will the Agency Grant a Request for a Hearing?

A request for a hearing will be granted if the Administrator determines that the material submitted shows the following: There is a genuine and substantial issue of fact; there is a reasonable possibility that available evidence identified by the requestor would, if established resolve one or more of such issues in favor of the requestor, taking into account uncontested claims or facts to the contrary; and resolution of the factual issues(s) in the manner sought by the requestor would be adequate to justify the action requested (40 CFR 178.32).

IX. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

This final rule establishes an extension of the temporary exemption from the tolerance requirement under section 408(d) of the FFDCA in response to a petition submitted to the Agency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled Regulatory Planning and Review (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this rule has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866 due to its lack of significance, this rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001). This final rule does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., or impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (Public Law 104-4). Nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994); or OMB review or any Agency action under Executive Order 13045, entitled Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, section 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note). Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under section 408(d) of the FFDCA, such as the exemption in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) do not apply. In addition, the Agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132, entitled Federalism (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999). Executive Order 13132 requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.” “Policies that have federalism implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government”. This final rule directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers and food retailers, not States. This action does not alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of section 408(n)(4) of the FFDCA. For these same reasons, the Agency has determined that this rule does not have any “tribal implications” as described in Executive Order 13175, entitled Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (65 FR 67249, November 6, 2000). Executive Order 13175, requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” “Policies that have tribal implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and the Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.” This rule will not have substantial direct effects on tribal governments, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes, as specified in Executive Order 13175. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this rule.

X. Congressional Review Act

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of this final rule in the Federal Register. This final rule is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

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List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

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Dated: April 21, 2005.

Janet L. Andersen,

Director, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

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Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

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PART 180—[AMENDED]

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1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows:

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Start Printed Page 21966 Authority: 21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

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2. Section 180.1247 is revised to read as follows:

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Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and the genetic material necessary for its production in cotton is exempt from the requirement of a tolerance.

Bacillus thuringiensis VIP3A protein and the genetic material necessary for its production in cotton is exempt from the requirement of a tolerance when used as a vegetative-insecticidal protein in the food and feed commodities, cotton seed, cotton oil, cotton meal, cotton hay, cotton hulls, cotton forage, and cotton gin byproducts. Genetic material necessary for its production means the genetic material which comprise genetic encoding the VIP3A protein and its regulatory regions. Regulatory regions are the genetic material, such as promoters, terminators, and enhancers, that control expression of the genetic material encoding the VIP3A protein. This time-limited exemption from the requirement of a tolerance expires May 1, 2006.

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[FR Doc. 05-8530 Filed 4-27-05; 8:45 am]

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