Posted  16 May, 2018 
In: Articles

July 29, 2016, President Obama enacted the bill on the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), officially known as the National Disclosure bioengineered Food Standard (S. 764) . The bill was adopted by the United States Congress on July 14, 2016. The law requires the Department of Agriculture United States (USDA) develop, within two years, a regulation to define clear and enforce the requirements of the bill. The act and regulations will apply both to products manufactured in the country and abroad.

This law creates a mandatory national system under which food manufacturers must disclose data relating to GMOs in various ways: the wording on the packaging, a symbol created by the USDA or an Internet connection (eg code.. QR) allowing consumers to get more information. The law immediately override the labeling initiatives of States, including the law that took effect in Vermont on July 1, 2016. The Attorney General of Vermont issued a statement August 2, 2016 announcing that following the signing national law by the President, Vermont cease to apply its own law on the labeling of GMOs.

The main features of the law:

  • Precedence immediately prohibits states and other entities to impose labels for food or genetically modified seeds.
  • Standard uniform nationwide: USDA has two years to establish, by regulation, uniform disclosure standards nationally for foods intended for human consumption which are or may be derived from biological techniques. The regulations determine the date of entry into force of the law.
  • Disclosure: mandatory disclosure by various means, including: 1) the wording on the packaging, 2) a symbol or 3) a link to a Web site (eg, a QR code or similar technology).. small food manufacturers are allowed to use websites or phone numbers to satisfy the disclosure requirements; restaurants and food manufacturers defined as “very small” will be exempted.
  • Meat: foods containing meat, poultry or egg products as the main ingredient will be exempt. The law also prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture to consider an animal derived food products as being from organic techniques only because the animal may have consumed food developed by biological techniques. The animals like salmon that are genetically modified are subject to disclosure requirements.
  • Definition of GMOs: the definition of GMOs in the bill refers to foods containing genetic material that has been modified by recombinant DNA techniques in vitro (the products of genetic modification and RNA interference for example, should be exempt from the labeling requirements, against the details will be provided in the regulations).
  • Organic products: food producers certified to the National Organic Program under the USDA can present their products as GMO-free without having to undergo another audit or provide other documentation.

During the development of regulations, the USDA will, among other things, define the ingredients and reproductive technologies that are subject to the law; determine what constitutes a “small” and “very small” businesses; and set the limit amount of biotechnology equipment that may contain a product before being subject to the disclosure requirements.

The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the development of regulations by the USDA. The potential impact on Canadian exports to the United States will only be known once the draft regulation issued by the USDA. However, the Government of Canada is seeking the views of stakeholders on the law and the potential areas of concern.

We invite you to give your views on the law on the labeling of US GM products through the account mas-sam@agr.gc.ca .

Your views will help guide the Government of Canada as we work with our US counterparts on the regulatory process to ensure that Canadian imports have no additional regulatory burden compared to US products subject to the same regulations.

Your views will help to inform the GoC have we committed with our US Counterparts Regarding the rule making process to Ensure Canadian imports do not-have additional regulatory Burdens in comparison to US products Adhering to le même regulations.

Click here to read an article on the recent developments from Common Dreams.


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