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RISK ASSESSMENT & REGULATION: USDA rules it won’t regulate Scotts GE bluegress as noxious weed



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   US SAYS IT WON?T REGULATE SCOTTS BIOTECH BLUEGRESS

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Charles Abbott

URL:     http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/01/bluegrass-biotech-idUSN1E7601JI20110701

DATE:    01.07.2011

SUMMARY: "An herbicide-tolerant Kentucky bluegrass engineered by Scotts Miracle-Gro is not covered by U.S. biotechnology rules nor is it a weed, the Agriculture Department ruled on Friday. The rulings responded to a query from Scotts about the regulatory status of the variety and a petition from two consumer groups who wanted genetically engineered Kentucky bluegrass listed as a noxious weed. Kentucky bluegrass is grown throughout the United States as a lawn grass and a pasture crop. Scotts said it developed the herbicide-tolerant variety without using genetic materials that require regulation."

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US SAYS IT WON?T REGULATE SCOTTS BIOTECH BLUEGRESS

(Reuters) - An herbicide-tolerant Kentucky bluegrass engineered by Scotts Miracle-Gro is not covered by U.S. biotechnology rules nor is it a weed, the Agriculture Department ruled on Friday.

The rulings responded to a query from Scotts about the regulatory status of the variety and a petition from two consumer groups who wanted genetically engineered (GE) Kentucky bluegrass listed as a noxious weed.

Kentucky bluegrass is grown throughout the United States as a lawn grass and a pasture crop. Scotts said it developed the herbicide-tolerant variety without using genetic materials that require regulation. After review, USDA agreed.

USDA said it strongly urged Scotts, in the early stages of developing the bluegrass, ?to work with industry partners and stakeholders and to develop appropriate and effective stewardship measures.? Organic farmers have complained of the risk of contamination of their crops by biotech varieties.

The bluegrass is genetically engineered to tolerate the weedkiller glyphosate, sold under brand names such as Roundup.

When Scotts, the world?s largest marketer of brand-name consumer lawn and garden products, wrote USDA last September to ask if the bluegrass would be free of regulation, it said it planned to begin agronomic field trials in coming months.

A request by Scotts and Monsanto Co for approval of GE glyphosate-tolerant creeping bentgrass has been pending at USDA since 2003.

In 2002, the consumer groups, Center for Food Safety and International Center for Technology Assessment asked USDA to list GE bluegrass and bentgrass as noxious weeds. USDA decided in 2003 that bentgrass did not meet the criteria. The groups sued in federal court and in 2007, the court overruled USDA and told it to reconsider the question.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   USDA RESPONDS TO REGULATION REQUESTS REGARDING KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS

SOURCE:  U.S. Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USA (USDA - APHIS)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2011/07/kentucky_bluegrass.shtml

DATE:    01.07.2011

SUMMARY: "In the first response, directed at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, APHIS confirmed that the Scotts GE Kentucky bluegrass variety does not fall under APHIS biotechnology authority for regulation. In the second response, directed at the International Center for Technology Assessment and the Center for Food Safety, APHIS determined it would not regulate Kentucky bluegrass-neither Scotts GE Kentucky bluegrass nor traditional Kentucky bluegrass-as a Federal noxious weed under its authority."

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USDA RESPONDS TO REGULATION REQUESTS REGARDING KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2011--The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today made available online its responses to two separate inquiries regarding the regulation of genetically-engineered (GE) Kentucky bluegrass. In the first response, directed at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, APHIS confirmed that the Scotts GE Kentucky bluegrass variety does not fall under APHIS biotechnology authority for regulation. In the second response, directed at the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), APHIS determined it would not regulate Kentucky bluegrass-neither Scotts GE Kentucky bluegrass nor traditional Kentucky bluegrass-as a Federal noxious weed under its authority.

In a September 2010 letter to USDA, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company sought confirmation that its Kentucky bluegrass variety, which is genetically-engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, is not regulated under APHIS? plant pest authority in the Plant Protection Act or biotechnology regulations. APHIS has confirmed that organisms used in generating Scotts? variety of GE Kentucky bluegrass are not considered to be plant pests, and Scotts did not use a plant pest to genetically engineer the Kentucky bluegrass. Moreover, the glyphosate tolerance is caused by a single gene insertion, which does not create a new species of Kentucky bluegrass. In addition, APHIS has no reason to believe that the GE Kentucky bluegrass itself is a plant pest. Accordingly, the Scotts GE bluegrass variety is not a regulated article under APHIS? biotechnology regulations, found at 7 CFR part 340. USDA strongly encourages Scotts, early in the research stages of GE Kentucky bluegrass, to work wit
 h industry partners and stakeholders and to develop appropriate and effective stewardship measures.

In a 2002 petition from the ICTA and CFS, the organizations asked if APHIS would regulate GE Kentucky bluegrass under its Federal ?noxious weed? authority in the Plant Protection Act. In response to the petition, APHIS conducted a risk assessment to determine the level of weed risk posed by Kentucky bluegrass, and subsequently evaluated whether the impacts posed by the plant would warrant it being regulated as a Federal noxious weed. As a result of its assessment, APHIS determined it would not regulate Kentucky bluegrass, GE or traditional, as a Federal noxious weed.

APHIS has made all materials related to Scotts? GE Kentucky bluegrass available at www.aphis.usda.gov, including its responses to Scotts and ICTA and CFS; the risk assessment; and other accompanying documents.

Notice of their availability will also be published in the Federal Register next week.