Fw: Fwd: Follow-up with Dept. of Agriculture...

"Larry Rasky"
2010-03-29 20:09

Better not to forget. Let me know if you don't get attachment.

To: Larry Rasky
Cc: David Tamasi
Sent: Mon Mar 29 11:41:29 2010
Subject: Fwd: Follow-up with Dept. of Agriculture...

Here is what I sent to Evan on March 3.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wed, Mar 3, 2010 5:07 pm
Subject: Follow-up with Dept. of Agriculture...

Following up on our conversation the other day about a South Carolina company's permit request pending before the Department of Agriculture, I have attached a copy of the letter that House Majority Whip Congressman Jim Clyburn send to Secretary Vilsack on January 14 regarding the matter.  The Clyburn letter pretty much lays out the case on behalf of ArborGen, a South Carolina-based biotechnology company conducting business in the forest products and bio-mass products sector.
Bottom-line, several years back ArborGen made application to the USDA's Biotechnology Regulatory Services for a permit to grow for field trial purposes genetically modified eucalyptus trees to test their freeze tolerance.  BRS accepted the application, opened a comment period and received comments in accordance government regulations.  Without acting on ArborGen's request, BRS announced that due to some internal problems with the initial comment and review period, they would re-open the comment period for another 30 days begining on or around January 12, 2010 (Federal Register Docket No. APHIS-2008-0059).  The delay in acting on ArborGen's original application has cost the company dearly in terms of lost research data and ultimately, the ability to commercially produce freeze tolerant eucalyptus trees.  As Congressman Clyburn's letter points out, two growing seasons have elapsed since ArborGen first submitted their application to the USDA and if  Biotechnology Regulatory Services does not act on the current application by the time these trees begin to flower around March 31 of this year, ArboGen will again be forced to destroy their freeze tolerrant eucalyptus field trials which are being conducted in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.  If forced to destroy their crop for a third year because of a lack of timely government action, ArborGen would again face a huge financial burden and tremendous loss of valuable research.
As stated above, Clyburn's letter makes the case well.  All he has asked is that the USDA act on Arborgen's application on or before March 31 when the field trial trees are estimated to begin flowering (the permit request would allow the trees to flower otherwise they must be destroyed to prevent the release of pollen).  Considering that the original application was filed more than 750 days back, it would seem that ample time has elapsed for the USDA to issue a decision in this time frame.
I would therefore ask the Vice President's office contact USDA to ensure that a decision is made in this matter prior to March 31.  ArborGen's application stands on the merits of their submission so the issue here is getting a decision made within a more than reasonable time frame so that ArborGen can go about there business and plan for the future. 
Thanks for your consideration and let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide additional information.
Sam B. "Trip" King III
Post Office Box 11875
Columbia, SC 29211
(803)312-1900 Cell
(803)779-1414 Office



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