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Forget About Vermont!: Congress Passes GMO “Labeling” Legislation

July 20, 2016

The National Law Review

On July 14, 2016, the House of Representatives passed S.764 creating a National Bioengineered Food Standard.  Importantly for food manufacturers and distributors, the law – expected to be signed by President Obama – will preempt all state laws “relating to the labeling or disclosure of whether a food is bioengineered or was developed or produced using bioengineering” if that standard is not identical to the mandatory disclosure under the new federal standard.  Once enacted, the law will preempt the Vermont GMO labeling Act that went into effect July 1, 2016.

So what does the new law do?

One thing it does not do is amend the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FFDCA”).  It is, instead, an amendment to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, 7 U.S.C. 1621, et seq.  It does apply to products regulated as foods subject to the FFDCA, as well as meat, egg and poultry products regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), but only if the most predominant ingredient in the food would be independently subject to the FFDCA labeling requirements or, if a liquid, the second most predominant food would be so subject.  It does require a “labeling” disclosure, discussed below, if a food product is bioengineered.  It does not apply to “food served in a restaurant or similar retail establishment” nor to “very small food manufacturers”.

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