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USDA Seeks Comment on Nine Biotech Crops in Bid to Speed Reviews

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public input on nine new genetically modified crops developed by companies such as Monsanto Co. and BASF SE as it begins a new process aimed at speeding safety reviews.

The public has 60 days to comment on potential environmental and economic issues related to the companies’ requests to allow unregulated planting and sales of the biotech seeds, the USDA said today on its website.

The crops are the first to be considered under a new policy aimed at deciding whether to approve biotech crops in 13 to 16 months, down from a current average of 3 years. To achieve that goal, the department is taking public comment at the start of the review process so concerns can be addressed early.

Applications opened for comment today include four crops from Monsanto: a glyphosate-tolerant canola, high-yielding soy, dicamba-tolerant soy and easier breeding corn. Also in the queue are a BASF soybean that tolerates imidazolinone and a glyphosate-tolerant soybean from DuPont Co.’s Pioneer unit.

Glyphosate, dicamba and imidazolinone are herbicides.

Others entering the comment period are a Dow Chemical Co. soybean that tolerates three herbicides, including 2,4-D, an Organagan Specialty Fruits apple modified to reduce browning, and glyphosate-tolerant corn from Genective SA and Bayer AG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Kaskey in Houston at jkaskey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net

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