Food Business News - August 22, 2017 - 30
he steering committee of the
Coalition for Safe Affordable Food,
in a letter dated Aug. 9, requested
a meeting with Mick Mulaney, director
of the Office of Management and Budget,
to discuss concerns that recent O.M.B.
actions may delay or even thwart the establishment of a national bioengineered
food disclosure standard.
The O.M.B. in July issued its Unified
Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory
Actions. The agenda provides an outline
of what regulations administrative agencies are working on and intend to issue.
The O.M.B. stated the agenda, the first
issued by the Trump administration,
"represents the beginning of fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation
toward reducing unnecessary regulatory
burden on the American people."
The agenda includes a list of "inactive" items, regulatory items that the
administration considers to be no longer
active but that may be reviewed and considered at some future date. Among the
regulatory items the O.M.B. consigned to
the "inactive" list is the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's national bioengineered
food disclosure standard.
The National Bioengineered Food
Disclosure Act of 2016, enacted on July
29, 2016, requires the U.S.D.A. to develop
a national standard that food manufacturers would be required to use in order
to notify consumers of the presence in
food of bioengineered ingredients.
The act was viewed as a compromise
between those who asserted bioengineered foods are no less safe than foods
manufactured without use of bioengineered ingredients and those who held
consumers have a right to know all that
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is in the foods they purchase and provide
Congress directed the U.S.D.A. to
establish and implement the standard
no later than two years after enactment,
or July 29, 2018. To that end, the U.S.D.A.
has been accepting comments from
stakeholders to assist in the rulemaking
and will continue to do so until Aug. 25.
A U.S.D.A. spokesperson told the press
the department then intends to issue a
draft standard for public comment this
fall and to work hard to meet the July 29,
2018, deadline for implementation.
But the O.M.B.'s consigning the
standard to the "inactive" list raised
doubts as to the commitment of the
Trump administration to meet the
congressional deadline for the establishment of the standard.
In the Aug. 9 letter, the organizations
advised Mr. Mulvaney that the National
Bioengineered Standard Act blocked
Vermont's mandatory G.M.O. labeling law
that was set to take effect and ensured that
there would be only one national standard
for labeling bioengineered food.
"This prevented $2.3 billion in economic costs, spared consumers from potential increased food costs of more than
$1,000 per family, and further prevented
a costly patchwork of differing state
requirements," the organizations said.
Noting Congress gave the U.S.D.A.
two years to promulgate regulations
implementing the act, the groups added,
"Given the short timeframe, with the
statutory deadline only one year away,
every phase of the rulemaking process
"Given this, we were concerned
to see the national bioengineered food
BOULDER BRANDS USA, INC.
Is the G.M.O.
disclosure standard placed on the 'inactives' list by the O.M.B. and hope that this
does not indicate decreased priority for
completing this rulemaking by the July
29, 2018, deadline," the organizations
stated. "Promulgating this regulation by
the statutory deadline is imperative, given the litigious nature of our opposition
and the costs to the economy that come
from extended regulatory uncertainty."
The coalition leaders added that
the U.S.D.A. could further reduce the
economic impact of the standard by
about $1.7 billion by harmonizing its
effective date with that of the Food and
Drug Administration's Nutrition Facts
"We believe these savings should be
taken into account when determining
the potential economic impact of the
national bioengineered food disclosure
standard," they said.
The steering committee concluded
its letter stating, "We strongly urge you to
consider the savings outlined above and
the state-by-state patchwork escaped as a
result of implementing the Bioengineered
Food Disclosure Act. Furthermore, given
the statutory deadline of July 29, 2018, we
urge you to work closely with the U.S.D.A.
to move this regulation expeditiously
through the rulemaking process."
Randy Russell of The Russell
Group, Washington, spokesman for the
Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, said
the coalition has been contacted by Mr.
Mulvaney's chief of staff, and expectations were a meeting will be called in the
near future. FBN
August 22, 2017