US feed groups weigh in on GMO labeling law

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/8vFanl
© istock/8vFanl

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NGFA and the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food call for the USDA to be clear when relaying the idea that a biotech labeling disclosure law does not apply to animals raised on bioengineered feed.

The comments came in response to a request for feedback from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on aspects of designing the proposed rule to implement the new National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.

AMS had asked for insight regarding the use of bioengineered feed: “How should AMS craft language in the regulation acknowledging that the law prohibits animal products from being considered bioengineered solely because the animal consumed feed products from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered substance?”​ the agency asked.

An initial deadline​ on comments was extended through Friday, August 25.

The comments collected will be considered when writing the proposed rule, said AMS.

'This is a marketing standard, and not a safety, health or nutrition standard'

In its response, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) asked the AMS to follow the intent of the law and recall the discussion regards a marketing standard.   

“As AMS develops the proposed rule for the bioengineered food disclosure standard, agricultural value chain stakeholders, including NGFA and its members, believe it is crucial for the agency to follow congressional intent, as provided in the Senate Report,” ​said Randall Gordon, president of NGFA, in a statement provided to us. “It is of paramount importance to reinforce that this is a marketing standard, and not a safety, health or nutrition standard, and should be crafted as such.”

NGFA submitted its comments in conjunction with the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food as it is a member of that coalition and helped develop that group’s responses, it reported.

It said it wanted to “firmly underscore”​ that an animal product, like meat, milk or eggs, should not be thought of as bioengineered just because the animal’s feed included or consisted of bioengineered substances.

“In addition, the bipartisan Senate Report provides clear direction to the agency, stating ‘it is the intent of Congress that the mandatory disclosure provisions not apply to animal feed, pet food, or ingredients used in animal feed or pet food. Furthermore, the language prohibits the secretary from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed,’”​ said the NGFA.

The statute and Congress’s statement are “unequivocal,​” said the NGFA. “The NGFA believes USDA-AMS must acknowledge the clear statutory intent that food is not subject to the mandatory disclosure requirement solely because it is derived from animals fed bioengineered substances,” ​it added.  

Similarly, the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, which includes several feed and feed crop-growing organizations, supported the “clear statutory intent”​ that animal-derived food is not to be labeled as bioengineered because the animal that produced it ate feed with bioengineered ingredients.

The coalition suggested that USDA-AMS use regulatory language from the statute to inform its regulations on the topic.


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