Organic activists sue USDA to nullify and revise bioengineered food labeling standards

BioengineeredLabels
Image: U.S.D.A., Adobestock

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard – which requires firms to label ‘bioengineered’ foods and beverages – is unlawful and should be nullified and then revised, according to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of retailers and nonprofits who want stricter GMO labeling laws.

The law​ ​– which will become mandatory in January 2022​  – 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.”

The new lawsuit ​is filed in the Northern District of California on July 27 against agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, ARS administrator Bruce Summers, and the USDA by Natural Grocers, Citizens For GMO Labeling, Label GMOs, Rural Vermont, Good Earth Natural Foods, Puget Consumers Co-Op, and the Center For Food Safety. It takes issue with multiple aspects of the law, from its limited scope, to its requirement to use the word ‘bioengineered’ on labels instead of more familiar terms such as ‘GMO’ or ‘genetically engineered.’

Related article:  Why scientific arguments won't end Europe's opposition to CRISPR-edited crops

The aim is to have the court declare the regulations unlawful and nullify them, and then return the issue to the USDA with orders to fix the unlawful parts, said George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case, who argues that the rules “fall far short of what consumers reasonably expect and the law requires.”

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