Posted on July 9, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

USDA rolls out guidance for GMO food testing method

Agency says enforcement of GMO labeling law will rely solely on food manufacturer's records

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published final guidance for food manufacturers to use when selecting a GMO testing method in order to comply with the new national GMO food labeling standard.

The new law, called the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, went into effect Jan. 1, except for small food manufacturers, whose implementation date is Jan. 1, 2021.

In a notice in the Federal Register published Wednesday, the agency said the guidance will help food makers validate a refining process so they can show that GMOs are undetectable in products.

A validated refining process is included in the regulations because the definition of bioengineered excludes foods in which the modified genetic material is not detectable.

“A validated refining process is one way a regulated entity can demonstrate that modified genetic material is undetectable,” the USDA said.

The new GMO standard’s mandatory compliance date is Jan. 1, 2022, but companies can voluntarily comply with the new labeling until Dec. 31, 2021.

However, the USDA said enforcement of the new law extends only to looking at a food manufacturer’s ingredient-specific records and that it “does not intend to conduct independent testing of food products or ingredients on its own.”

The new law calls GMO foods “bioengineered,” and defines bioengineered foods as “those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through certain lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.”

However, the new law does not address foods produced with GMOs created by new gene-editing techniques such as TALEN and CRISPR. (Read more about this here.)

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