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EPA may force pesticide label on new plum


May 5, 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

May 5, 2010,
Washington, DC – The Competitive Enterprise Institute is condemning a proposed
Environmental Protection Agency action plan that would require a new biotech
crop to be labeled as a pesticide.

May 5, 2010,
Washington, DC – The Competitive Enterprise Institute is condemning a proposed
Environmental Protection Agency action plan that would require a new biotech
crop to be labeled as a pesticide. 

In approving the
new plum variety – Honey Sweet – which has been bioengineered to resist plum
pox virus (PPV) infection, the EPA proposes to regulate trees, cuttings, and
fruit from virus-resistant plants under federal pesticide laws and label them
as containing a “plant incorporated protectant.”

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“(The) EPA has
already concluded this plant and fruit are perfectly safe for humans and the
environment,” said CEI senior fellow Gregory Conko. “Treating
a mere plum as a pesticide would needlessly spread consumer confusion and add
burdensome regulations on nurseries that sell the trees, farmers who grow them,
and retailers who sell the fruit.”

The EPA has
regulatory authority over crop plants bioengineered to produce substances that
kill or repel pests. But virus-resistant crops do not produce pesticidal
substances, so the agency has never before regulated them under pesticide
laws. To date, virus-resistant varieties of squash, potato, and papaya
have been approved for commercial-scale cultivation in the United States.
 None has been regulated as a “plant incorporated protectant.”

“Unlike
insect-resistant crops, bioengineered to produce a protein that is toxic to
caterpillars, virus-resistant plants fend off infection without generating new
proteins,” said Conko. “Classifying this plum variety as a biopesticide is
legally suspect, and it cannot be justified by any concerns about the
environment or human consumers.”

The C5 Honey Sweet
Plum variety was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at a research
station in West Virginia, in cooperation with scientists from France, Spain,
Poland, and Romania. It is bioengineered to resist PPV, which is harmless to
humans but destroys plum, peach, nectarine, apricot, and cherry trees by
rendering them sterile.

CEI filed public interest
comments on the EPA’s proposed Biopesticide Registration Action Document for
the C5 plum. The institute is urging the EPA to remove the plum’s
classification as a biopesticide or at least to exempt trees and fruit from the
labeling requirement.