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Genetically modified organisms concept with an organic pears and a genetically modified pear. ANNECORDON/iStock/GettyImagesPlus

Update on National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

Bill was passed in 2016, Trump administration hopes to put it in effect in 2020.

The Office of Management and Budget has received USDA’s final rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, according to the National Law Review.

The bill mandating establishment of the standard was passed by Congress in summer 2016. The bill:

  • Requires a standard be established for disclosing the presence of bioengineered ingredients,
  • Directs the agriculture secretary to establish requirements for carrying out the standard,
  • Directs the secretary to conduct a study to identify potential technological challenges related to electronic or digital disclosure methods.
  • Forbids states from establishing their own labeling requirements. The bill nulled a Vermont labeling law that was to take effect.
  • USDA has released several proposed labels to certify a food contains bioengineered ingredients.

Public comments were received on the proposal through July 3, 2018. In total, 14,018 comments were received on the proposal.

Here’s a sampling of what is being said about the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.

“Two features of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard are particularly troubling. First, the law leaves room for "other factors and conditions" that would trigger mandatory GMO labeling. That vague language is sure to sow confusion and lead to lawsuits for years to come. Second, the federal law allows food marketers to disclose GMO content via "text, symbol, or electronic or digital link." That leaves open the possibility that food marketers could simply use QR codes—those square-shaped graphics that have to be scanned with a mobile device in order to convey any information.” – Reason

USDA aims to publish a final rule on labeling food containing genetically engineered ingredients by Dec. 1, according to Greg Ibach, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. The department wants to begin enforcing the rule on Jan. 1, 2020.  – Genetic Literacy Project

“The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in federal court alleging the USDA failed to meet the deadline to issue regulations for labeling genetically engineered foods under the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act.” – Northern Caifornia Record

The proposal may replace the words GMO and genetically modified with bioengineered, bioengineered food and BE. – Nutritional Outlook

“Polls have shown Americans want to know if their food has been genetically engineered (GE) or contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but critics of a rule proposed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) contend terms like “BE food” and “bioengineered food” would confuse people, defeating the purpose of a 2016 law intended to provide transparency to consumers.” – Natural Products Insider

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