“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 Sonny Perdue, secretary of agriculture. “We are looking for public input on a number of these key decisions before a final rule is issued later this year.”
His comments mean the initial date for publishing the final rule, July 26, 2018, will be pushed back. The proposed rule may be found here.
The USDA will accept comments until July 3. Due to the mandated timeline from Congress for the rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended. Comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov. They also may be filed with the Docket Clerk, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543-South, Washington, DC 20250.
The USDA proposes to define “bioengineering” with respect to food as referring to a food “(A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and (B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.” The USDA welcomes public comment on what could be considered to constitute “bioengineering.”
The proposed rule said the terms “bioengineered food” or “bioengineered food ingredient” should be used in the labeling. Alternative phrases, such as “genetically modified” or “genetically engineered,” were considered, but they were not proposed because the USDA said “bioengineering” adequately describes food products of the technology that Congress intended to be within the scope of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.
Before creating the proposed rule, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service received over 112,000 responses.
The AMS said enzymes that are required to be on the ingredient list of products would be subject to disclosure.
“As such, AMS seeks comment on whether, more generally, enzymes present in food should be considered ‘bioengineered food,’” the AMS said.
The proposed rule prohibits a food derived from an animal from being considered a bioengineered food solely because the animal consumed feed produced from, containing or consisting of a bioengineered substance. One example would be eggs used in a baked food. If the eggs came from a chicken given feed produced from bioengineered corn or soy, the eggs would not be considered bioengineered solely on the basis of the chicken’s feed.
Companies, under the proposed rule, may disclose bioengineered food or ingredients in three ways: text, symbol, or electronic or digital link disclosure. The AMS proposed three alternative symbols with variations of the symbols and invites public comment on them.