Rachel Iadicicco (301) 734-3255
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON May 15, 2006-The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate a plum
genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to plum pox. The plum has been
regulated under permit since September 1995.

The petition, submitted by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is in
accordance with APHIS' regulations concerning the introduction of GE organisms and
products. APHIS has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to determine
whether deregulating the plum could have a significant impact on the environment.
Based on the scientific evidence presented by ARS, APHIS' current preferred
alternative is to deregulate the plum.

ARS and APHIS are separate agencies of USDA. ARS is the research arm and works to
find solutions to agricultural problems. ARS is required to follow the same
procedures as other developers of GE products. APHIS is responsible for protecting
U.S. agriculture and the environment from animal and plant pests and diseases.
APHIS regulates GE products in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency
and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration.

APHIS makes a determination of nonregulated status only when it can conclude that
the organism does not pose a plant pest risk. If APHIS grants ARS' petition for
deregulation, the plum and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The
product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or
other regulatory oversight by APHIS. In addition to APHIS review, ARS is consulting
FDA on the food safety of this GE plum variety.

APHIS has been safely regulating GE organisms since 1986 and has overseen the
deregulation of more than 70 products.

APHIS is seeking comment on the petition as required by its regulations.
APHIS also invites comments on the EA.

Notice of this action is scheduled for publication in May 16 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before July 17. Send an
original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket
No. APHIS-2006-0084, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station
3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. If you wish to submit
a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at and, in the "Search Regulations

and Federal Actions" box, select "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" from
the agency drop-down menu; then click on "Submit." In the Docket ID column, select
APHIS-2006-0084 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related
materials available electronically.

Comments are posted on the Web site and may also be viewed at USDA,
Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C.,
between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To
facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.