Comment Deadline: USDA Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Permit for Release of Genetically Engineered Citrus tristeza virus
The USDA is announcing to the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) intends to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) evaluating the environmental impacts that may result from the potential approval of an application from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, seeking a permit for the environmental release of genetically engineered Citrus tristezavirus (CTV). The virus has been genetically engineered to express defensin proteins from spinach as an approach to manage citrus greening disease throughout the State of Florida. APHIS considers this genetically engineered CTV to be a biological control agent since it is a biological organism intended to help manage citrus greening disease. Issues to be addressed in the EIS include the potential environmental impacts to managed natural and non-agricultural lands, agricultural production systems, the physical environment, biological resources, human health, socioeconomics, federally listed threatened or endangered species, and cultural or historic resources. The USDA is also requesting public comments to further delineate the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts and issues to be included in this EIS.