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What is a bioengineered food?

Highwaystarz-Photography/ThinkstockPhotos Woman Buying Sandwich From Supermarket
Comment through July 3 on USDA National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.

The public may comment though July 3, 2018, on the proposed rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. The standard will provide a uniform way to offer disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels.

“This rulemaking presents several possible ways to determine what foods will be covered by the final rule and what the disclosure will include and look like,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We are looking for public input on a number of these key decisions before a final rule is issued later this year.” 

The proposed rule is open for comment for 60 days. Due to the Congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended, so it is important that anyone interested file comments in a timely manner. 

“The proposed rule is based on sharing factual information, rather than emotional scare tactics,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a media statement. “Science proves that GMOs are safe, and this national proposal strikes a much-needed balance compared to the chaos that would come from a patchwork of state-level labeling initiatives.” 

Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking portal Comments may also be filed with the Docket Clerk, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543-South, Washington, DC 20250; Fax: (202) 690-0338.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Law was enacted by Congress on July 29, 2016. The proposed rule previewed in the May 3, Federal Register.

Source: USDA, AFBF 

Here’s a look at what others are saying:

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA will probably miss its July 29 deadline to create a rule for labeling of genetically engineered foods and ingredients. — Food Processing 

Highlights of the proposed rule include an exemption for organic foods and incidental additives, but two key questions on thresholds and definitions are left unresolved. — Food Navigator

“This rule will help keep consumers in the dark as it is intended,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director, Food & Water Watch. “It’s filled with loopholes and would allow manufactures to use digital codes and other technology that make GMO disclosure more difficult for consumers than simple labels.” — Common Dreams

This rule is an attempt to define what a “bioengineered food” really is, and when it has to be disclosed. – The New Food Economy

“We’re one step closer to having a national mandatory GMO disclosure system,” said Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “But, the draft rule leaves many fundamental questions unanswered, fails to provide solutions for consumers without smart phones or consumers with lousy cell service, and fails to provide clear rules that ensure that QR codes will consistently scan.” 

“While the Non-GMO Project will help lead efforts to ensure that this law is as meaningful as possible, it’s clear based on what was released today that Non-GMO Project Verified will remain the most trustworthy and accessible way for consumers to avoid GMOs.” – The Non-GMO Project

USDA’s proposed rule requires food manufacturers to use the term “bioengineered” to label genetically modified food. It also exempts products that fall below a predetermined ingredient threshold from needing a label. – The Washington Post

USDA is taking comments on whether or not to include “highly refined” foods and seeks comments on how to deal with newer forms of genetic engineering. - EcoWatch

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