The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
What is it?
The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) requires food manufactures, importers, and certain retailers to disclose information about whether food offered for retail sale is bioengineered (BE) or uses BE food ingredients. The NBFDS was developed to create a transparent and uniform labeling process for bioengineered products. This is regulated by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). THE MANDATORY COMPLIANCE DATE FOR ALL REGULATED BUSINESSES IS JANUARY 1, 2022.
What is a Bioengineered Food?
A BE food is a product that has been altered in a lab through in vitro (rDNA) procedure. This technique alters the plant or animal in a way that cannot be found through traditional breeding or within nature. Foods that do not contain detectable modified genetic material are not BE foods.
How is Bioengineered Food Developed and Grown?
Bioengineered food has been developed to help feed the Earth population. At our growing rate, we are expected to yield a population increase of 1 to 5 billion people between 2007 and 2050 (UN, 2009), with a standing population of roughly 7.9 and 12 billion people by 2050. At our current production speed, we will have a food shortage. So now what? We need to come up with ways to feed our population without overwhelming the planet and continuing to be good stewards of the land.
This is how genetically modified organisms (GMO's) were developed. A genetic modification is a source of technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. This does not change the health, safety, or environmental attributes of the food. The food is being altered to be able to grow the food more sustainable and at a higher yield to feed our ever growing population.
Once the new sequence of DNA is inserted into the plant cells, usually the cells are grown in tissue cultures where they can develop into plants. The new plants now feature new trait or traits that allow farmers to grow these crops at much higher yields while protecting our land. Many traits inserted into crops include, but are not limited to: resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, or resistance to herbicides.
IMPORTANT things to consider:
Food marketing labels do no convey information about the health, safety, or environmental attributes of the food being produced.
Where on the package will you see it?
Disclosure Labeling Options:
1. TEXT DISCLOSURE
Text disclosure is either a statement with the words" bioengineered food" or "contains bioengineered food ingredients."
2. SYMBOL DISCLOSURE
The designated BE Symbol placed on the packaging.
3. ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DISCLOSURE
Electronic or digital disclosure must include a statement such as "Scan here for more food information" and must be accompanied by a telephone number.
4. TEXT MESSAGE DISCLOSURE
Text message disclosure must include the statement "Text (command word) to (number) for bioengineered food information."
5. SMALL FOOD MANUFACTURES
(<$10,000,000 annual receipts) Small food manufactures may make the disclosure using a telephone number or URL and the statement "Call/visit (phone number/website) for more information."
6. SMALL PACKAGING ACCOMMODATION
Small and very small packages may include a shortened statement accompanying disclosure made by text message and electronic or digital disclosure.
The Official BE List
The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan are all approved for commercial production of bioengineered Alfalfa. However, Canada and the United States are currently the only places the crop is in production.
Commercial production of bioengineered potatoes occurs in the United States and Canada. However, the production is relatively minor. Bioengineered potato versions have been developed for three potato cultivars: Atlantic, Ranger Russet, and Russet Burbank.
Bioengineered apples are in commercial production in the United States. The product has also been approved for production in Canada. There are three bioengineered apple cultivars: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji.
Bioengineered canola is commercially produced in three countries: Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, South Africa, the United States, Uruguay Colombia, Czech Republic, Paraguay, the Philippines, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Vietnam all produce bioengineered corn.
Bioengineered cotton production represents more than half of all cotton production in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa, and the United States. Burma, China, India, and Pakistan also produce bioengineered cotton commercially; however, it has not been reviewed by the FDA.
Bangladesh is the only contry commercially producing bioengineered eggplant. For phytosanitary reasons USDA-APHIS does not admit fresh eggplant fruit into the United States from Bangladesh.
China and the United States commercially produce bioengineered papaya. For phytosanitary reasons, USDA-APHIS does not admit fresh papaya fruit into the United States from China.
Production of bioengineered pineapple with pink flesh is occurring commercially in Costa Rica. However, it is not yet available for sale in the United States.
Bioengineered Salmon is currently produced in Panama and sold in Canada. Currently no bioengineered Salmon is on the market in the United States. Salmon is the only bioengineered animal that has been approved for food use by the FDA.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, South Africa, the United States, and Uruguay commercially produce bioengineered soybean.
12. SUMMER SQUASH*
Bioengineered summer squash is commercially produced at a low level in the United States. Bioengineered varieties of green zucchini, yellow straight-neck, and yellow crookneck squash can be found on the market.
13. SUGAR BEET*
Canada and the United States are the only two countries producing bioengineered sugar beets.