Comment on the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard


The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) is the culmination of two decades of Americans overwhelmingly demanding mandatory labeling of GMO foods. The draft version published by the USDA on May 3 leaves many questions unanswered and indicates plenty of cause for alarm. The USDA is currently accepting comments through July 3. In order to support you in making your voice heard, the Non-GMO Project has created a short webinar explaining key points for comments, and has drafted a customizable template for comment submission to the USDA.

Watch the 35-minute webinar with Non-GMO Project Executive Director Megan Westgate which provides background on the proposed USDA standard, implications of the draft rule, and context for the proposed comments:

Here’s what’s at risk if we don’t comment; the final rule might:

  • Exempt GMO foods that have been processed and refined (which is the majority of GMO foods)
  • Exempt new GMOs, such as those developed through gene editing techniques like CRISPR and RNAi
  • Allow an unreasonably high 5% threshold for GMO contamination in ingredients
  • Fail to include any technical requirements to ensure that testing is meaningful (test method, accreditation of labs, sampling plan requirements, etc.)
  • Fall behind the rapid introduction of new GMOs by only updating its list of GMO foods once per year.
  • Restrict text claims to the unfamiliar term “Bioengineered,” making it illegal to disclose GMO content using the much more familiar terms “Genetically Engineered” or “Genetically Modified”
  • Allow a newly invented acronym, “BE,” which consumers have no way to know means GMO, as well as use a label that has a strongly favorable stylistic bias

    USDA "BE" Symbols. Image courtesy of the Agricultural Marketing Service - USDA

    The draft NBFDS includes the above symbols. Tell the USDA it is NOT acceptable to confuse the American public by using a newly invented acronym and smiling, winking symbols!

Take Action Now

Step 1. Download a template letter suggesting comments to the USDA

Option A. Paste the template letter onto your letterhead. Add a short statement about your company and a signature. If you want to change or add to the comments, though, please do so!

Option B (preferred). Letters that integrate the direct impacts of the proposed rule on your business are much more effective. After pasting the template content on your letterhead, please add personal statements to each comment providing context for how this element of the proposed USDA standard impacts your business or customers.

Resources for commenting:

Step. 2 Upload your letter

Your comments must be submitted by 11:59 EST on July 3, 2018 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. There is a character limit on comments written or pasted directly into the comment text field; rather than pasting your comments, we suggest directing the USDA to your attached letter, with a simple statement such as “Please see attached letter.” You are also encouraged to submit supplemental evidence supporting your comments.

The Rigor of the Non-GMO Project is More Important than Ever

We appreciate your attention to this critical matter. While the Non-GMO Project will continue to lead efforts to ensure that this law is as meaningful as possible, it’s clear based on what was released that Non-GMO Project Verified will remain the most trustworthy and accessible way for consumers to avoid GMOs.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Non-GMO Project if you have any questions. Thank you!