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Oregon State University; Availability of an Environmental Assessment for Controlled Release of Genetically Engineered Populus Species and Hybrids

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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.




We are advising the public that an environmental assessment has been prepared for a proposed controlled field release of genetically engineered (transgenic) clones of Populus species and hybrids. The purpose of this controlled field release is to examine the effects of the genetic constructs on the intended traits—reproductive sterility, reduced stature, reduced light response, and modified lignin content. We are making the environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment.


We will consider all comments received on or before August 17, 2007.


You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to:, select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2007-0018 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically. Information on using, including instruction for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through the site's “User Tips” link.
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. APHIS-2007-0018, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2007-0018.

Reading Room: You may read the environmental assessment (EA) and any comments we receive on this docket in our reading room. The reading room 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. The EA is available on the Internet at:​brs/​aphisdocs/​06_​25001r_​ea.pdf.

Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its Start Printed Page 39379programs is available on the Internet at:

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Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-7324. To obtain copies of the environmental assessment, contact Ms. Cynthia Eck, Document Control Officer, at (301) 734-0667; e-mail:

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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 September 7, 2006, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) received a permit application (APHIS No. 06-250-01r) from Oregon State University, in Corvallis, OR, for a controlled field release of genetically engineered Populus alba and Populus hybrids. A previous environmental assessment (EA) was prepared for a subset of trees in this release under Permit 95-031-01R. Under that permit, trees engineered with sterility constructs were allowed to flower. Since the researcher intends to add more trees to the permit and allow these additional trees to flower, a new EA has been prepared that updates the previous EA.

Permit application 06-250-01r describes 95 genetic constructs that can be categorized into reproductive sterility genes, genes affecting stature or light response, genes aimed to modify tree chemistry, and activation tagging mutants aimed at the development of “experimental domesticates.” These DNA sequences were introduced into Populus plants using disarmed Agrobacterium tumefaciens and also contain regulatory sequences from the plant pests cauliflower mosaic virus, tobacco mosaic virus, Aspergillus nidulans, and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The subject Populus plants are considered regulated articles under the regulations in 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 of these Populus plants, an EA has been prepared. 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). Copies of the EA may be viewed on the Web site or in our reading room (see ADDRESSES above) and are available from the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 12th day of July 2007.

Kevin Shea,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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[FR Doc. E7-13922 Filed 7-17-07; 8:45 am]