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USDA poses questions on GMO labeling

The Agriculture Department's Agricultural Marketing Service has posted 30 questions for which it is seeking comment before it establishes a national food disclosure standard for bioengineered food.

AMS wants responses by July 17, but also notes there will be an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the proposed rule during the rulemaking process. The questions can be found here.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard enacted on July 29, 2016, gave AMS two years to establish a national standard and the procedures necessary for implementation.

Input related to the questions should be sent to GMOlabeling@ams.usda.gov.

Just Label It Chairman Gary Hirshberg, who favors strict labeling, said in a statement USDA is asking the right questions, and urged people to answer the questions.

"Now's the time for ordinary Americans to express our points of view. All of us want to know what we're feeding our families, and we expect that all GMOs — including GMO sugars and oils — will be covered by the new rules as part of the GMO disclosure law passed by Congress," Hirshberg said. "We also expect to get ingredient-by-ingredient disclosures, just like consumers in other countries already get, and that any digital options will work for all consumers — including people who don't have smartphones.

"The USDA is asking the right questions, and its posting of them today will help ensure that its work is completed by next summer," he added. "Now it's up to consumers to help the USDA by doing our part in providing comments to the agency."

Meanwhile, an AMS official told the Institute of Food Technologists that the agency is planning to comply with the law by establishing the standard by July 2018, Food Business News reported.