The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced last week the availability of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that evaluates the potential environmental effects of deregulating alfalfa genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup. This GE alfalfa is commonly referred to as Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa.

APHIS is seeking public comment on the draft EIS and will consider all public comments submitted during the comment period before finalizing the EIS or making any decisions regarding the regulatory status of RR alfalfa. The comment period will be open for 60 days from the date of publication in the Dec. 18, Federal Register. Preliminarily, APHIS concluded that there is no significant impact on the human environment due to granting non-regulated status to RR alfalfa.

To obtain feedback and take comment from members of the general public APHIS is scheduling four public meetings. 

These meetings will take place in conjunction with the Western Alfalfa Seed Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., the week of Jan. 17, 2010; the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo in Kearney, Neb., the week of Feb. 2 and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society Annual Healthy Farms/Rural Advantage Conference in Lincoln, Neb., the week of Feb. 2. 

APHIS will also hold a public meeting in the Washington D.C., area during the week of Feb. 8. More information will be forthcoming.

Check out this news story.