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APHIS seeks comment on select agent list changes

Listed agents are subject to strong regulations on use and movement in order to protect American public and agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is conducting its biennial review of the select agents and toxins registration list, as required by the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002.

APHIS said the act requires the evaluation of all potential animal or plant select agents every two years based on their effects on the health, production and marketability of the animals or plants, their ability to cause disease and whether countermeasures or treatments are available.

As outlined in the 2018 farm bill, the agency will also evaluate potential select agents based on whether inclusion on the list would have a substantial negative impact on the research and development of solutions for the animal or plant disease caused by the agent or toxin, APHIS said.

Agents on the select agents list are subject to strong regulations on use and movement in order to protect the American public and agriculture.

APHIS is seeking public feedback on the current list and whether any updates are appropriate. Specifically, APHIS would like input on the following select agents, which are being considered for removal from the list:

  • Peronosclerospora philippinensis (Peronosclerospora sacchari);
  • African horse sickness virus;
  • Bacillus anthracis (Pasteur strain);
  • Brucella abortus, Brucella suis and Brucella melitensis, and
  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.

In a Federal Register posting, APHIS provided background on each of these select agents and the reason(s) they might be appropriate to remove from the list. After a 60-day public comment period, all feedback will be shared with the agency’s working groups to consider during the review process. After completing the review, APHIS said it will either republish the list or propose changes through the rule-making process.

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