The Trump Administration hit the pause button on the USDA's fine-tuning of guidelines around the July 2016 GMO bill. The bill itself did not define the standards, but provided the USDA authority to define and implement required disclosures. The Trump Administration's latest memo to department heads and following executive order will stall some of the outstanding GMO issues awaiting answers.
What We Know About the Federal Bill:
1. Labelling is required for all qualifying foods by July 2018.
2. State GMO laws are preempted.
3. Bill will not interfere with any voluntary manufacturer GMO labelling.
4. To be considered GMO food, mutations must be one that could not be "otherwise obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature".
5. "Small food manufacturers" have the option to provide a toll free number on the packaging and a website URL linking to a page containing the disclosure.
6. Food served in a restaurant or "similar retail establishment" as well as "very small food manufacturers" are excluded from
the disclosure requirements.
7. Organic labeled food does not need to include a non-GMO label.
8. Disclosure is not required for a food derived from an animal solely because the animal feed was produced from a bioengineered substance.
What Remains Unanswered:
1. Labeling and disclosure standards.
2. Quantity / % of bioengineered substance present in food equated with "bioengineered" status.
3. Exemption definitions for "small food manufacturer," "small or very small packages," "very small food manufacturers," or "similar food establishment".
4. Disclosure options for "small or very small packages".
5. Labelling protocols for fresh foods.
The Trump Administration's January 20 memo to department heads and the following January 30 executive order caused a significant road bump in the USDA implementation process. We will be monitoring and will keep you posted.