Federal Organic and GMO labeling rules proposed by USDA
The United States Department of Agriculture released its proposed rules for declaring “bio-engineered food ingredient” content on most foods that are not organically certified. The required disclosure will a federally mandated message rather than a warning, as is the case of with high risk products.
Industry and consumers only have until July 3, 2018 to make comments to the proposed rules–with no hope of an extension. USDA has set compliance dates to coincide with the FDA’s new nutrition facts and supplement facts label updates: January 1, 2020 (or 2021 for small manufacturers).
Comments are requested by the USDA regarding which disclosures are most suitable and if “TWO pre-approved lists of agricultural crops” make the most practical sense for designation of “b-e” foods and “b-e” food ingredients. The lists would be updated periodically and USDA is seeking comments on this practicality, too.
Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking portal www.regulations.gov beginning Friday May 4. Comments may also be filed with the Docket Clerk, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543-South, Washington, DC 20250; Fax: (202) 690-0338.
The deadline for comments is July 3, 2018.
The USDA is proposing disclosures on packages –similar to the National Organic Program regulations–in the form of:
- phone numbers that may receive text messages,
- electronic codes, or
- a designated phrase
The disclosure will not use the popular terms “Genetically Modified Organism” or “GMO”. Rather the USDA believes “bio-engineered” is a more realistic term to comply to the law signed in 2016. This was the federal law enacted to avert a state-by-state patchwork of GMO-labeling laws.
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.