We are writing on behalf of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the largest single life science organization in the world comprising more than 42,000 members, to provide comments on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rules on plant pesticides (Docket Control Numbers: OPP-300368A, OPP-300371A, OPP-300367A as they appeared in 62 Federal Register 27132-27155).
The ASM is made up of scientists who work in academic, governmental and industrial institutions worldwide. Microbiologists are involved in research on problems related to human health, the environment, agriculture, and energy. The mission of ASM is to enhance the science of microbiology to gain a better understanding of basic life processes, and to promote the application of this knowledge for improved health, and for economic and environmental well being.
OPP-300368A, Plant Pesticides, Supplemental Notice; Proposed Rule
The ASM concurs with the EPA that public consumption of sexually compatible plants should be exempt from the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and from the requirement of a tolerance under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The ASM does not support the tenet that certain genes and genetic material in plants are plant pesticides. The ASM is of the opinion that this determination remains scientifically flawed. It will be interesting to note the public's reaction to the exemption of some of these substances from FIFRA when given the information contained in this rule that 'infants begin as early as 4 months of age to consume specific types of solid foods containing residues of pesticidal substances.'
OPP-300371A, Plant Pesticides; Nucleic Acids; Proposed Rule
The ASM agrees with EPA that nucleic acids, as part of a plant pesticide, or as part of plant residue, should be exempt from a tolerance. The ubiquity of nucleic acids would make any other determination absurd.
OPP-300367A, Plant Pesticides; Viral Coat Proteins, Proposed Rule
The ASM also believes that plant viral coat proteins or segments of these proteins, produced in plants to protect the plants against viral disease, should be exempt from tolerance. Consumption of plant viruses, directly or indirectly is a common occurrence with no demonstrated, adverse consequences to the consumer or the environment.