WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association, in comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard this week, has urged the U.S.D.A. to require the disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bioengineered crops in food and beverage products.
“Our member companies have an unwavering commitment to meeting consumer demands for more information about the food and beverage products they purchase and consume,” said Leon Bruner, Ph.D., chief science officer with the G.M.A. “Consumers expect to know if a product contains an ingredient that was sourced from a bioengineered crop, so it is essential that disclosure of this information be required under a final rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.”
In a 31-page letter submitted to the U.S.D.A., the G.M.A. said food and beverage products are held to a high standard by consumers and as such need to be transparent in disclosing ingredient information. The G.M.A. said the U.S.D.A.’s decision on whether to require the disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bioengineered crops will have a significant impact on the number of products that will be disclosed under the evaluated final rule.
The G.M.A. has estimated that excluding refined ingredients from the mandatory disclosure standard would result in 78% fewer products being disclosed under the federal law.
“Our ability to provide consumers with the information they seek — and in a way that they understand — will build trust in brands, industry and government institutions,” the G.M.A. noted in the July 3 letter. “The ease with which the final regulations enable full disclosure of information to consumers will either support or diminish our ability to engage in a dialogue with consumers about technologies that improve lives, society and the environment.”
The G.M.A. also said that disclosure to consumers should occur when the cumulative weight of bioengineered ingredients exceeds 0.9% of a finished food product. By using this standard, consumers will be provided a standard that the G.M.A. said is transparent, while also acknowledging that similar allowances for small amounts of bioengineered ingredients are made in the United States for products certified as non-G.M.O.
The comment period for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard closed on July 3, and the publication of the final rule has been pushed back. Originally, it was set to be published on July 26.