Funding issues could delay the implementation of new federal GMO food disclosure rules (subscription to Food Chemical News required)

  • As previously discussed on this blog, a new federal law requiring labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients was signed into law on July 29, 2016.  This law directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop regulations and standards to create mandatory disclosure requirements for bio-engineered foods by July 2018.  Under the new law, food companies would have three options to disclose GMO ingredients: the use of on-package text, a USDA-created symbol, or an internet link — i.e., a QR code printed on the package that directs customers to GMO information.  To support the development of the regulations and standards required by the new law, USDA is slated to conduct a study to identify potential technological challenges that might impact whether consumers would be able to rely on electronic or digital links on food packages.
  • A recent news report, however, indicates that USDA is struggling to secure the funds to move forward with the study which, under the law, should be completed by this July.  Despite the current delays, a USDA official indicates that the Agency “fully expects to meet all deadlines set forth in the law.”
  • Industry will continue to keep a close eye on developments as they unfold, particularly with a new administration at the helm.