more likely, alter its genetic diversity if it permits the crop to be grown in closer proximity to the wild plants, thereby increasing interpopulation hybridization rates and detrimental gene flow.
On September 4, 1992, APHIS announced its intent to issue an interpretive ruling on the Upjohn/Asgrow petition that ZW-20 squash did not present a plant pest risk and would no longer be considered a regulated article in the Federal Register (57:40632). During the 45-day comment period, APHIS received 17 comments regarding its proposed ruling; seven were generally supportive of APHIS’s proposed action, and 10 were not.
On March 22, 1993, APHIS published a second Federal Register notice (58:15323) requesting additional information on eight issues raised by commenters to the first notice. At the same time, APHIS commissioned Hugh Wilson of Texas A&M University, a cucurbit taxonomist and ecologist, to prepare a report (see above) related to issues raised in comments to the first Federal Register notice. There were 12 comments to the second notice; 10 were generally supportive of APHIS’s action and two expressed serious reservations. After the close of the official comment period, APHIS received two additional letters urging the agency not to approve the petition.
On May 23, 1994, APHIS published a third notice in the Federal Register (59:266l9–26620) announcing an environmental assessment (EA) and preliminary finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for comment at a public meeting and for written comment during a 45-day comment period. Two individuals, one in favor of the EA and FONSI and one against, spoke and provided written comments at the meeting. During the rest of the comment period, APHIS received 52 additional written comments. Twenty-nine comment letters disagreed with APHIS’s proposal to approve the subject petition; 23 comments supported APHIS’s findings in the EA and FONSI. The affiliations of the final set of commenters were as follows: private individuals (18), universities (12), agricultural experiment stations (11), public policy and public-interest groups (6), industry (2), associations (1), cooperative extension service (1), and federal research laboratory (1). About a third of the final set of comments were detailed and substantial. The affiliations of prior commenters were not published by APHIS.
The second petition for CZW-3 was not nearly as controversial. On February 2, 1996, APHIS published a Federal Register notice (61:3899–3900) announcing that the Asgrow petition was available for public review. APHIS received a total of four comments, all of which were favorable to the petition.