• As previously reported on this blog, legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients was signed into law on July 29, 2016. This law directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop regulations and standards to create mandatory disclosure requirements for bio-engineered foods by July 29, 2018. The law requires the USDA to have conducted a study by July 29, 2017 to identify “potential technological challenges that may impact whether consumers would have access to the bioengineering disclosure through electronic or digital disclosure methods.” The law also requires that USDA solicit and consider comments from the public concerning the study.
  • The Center for Food Safety has repeatedly expressed concerns that any electronic communication will not provide disclosure to a large portion of Americans and will disproportionately affect minority, low-income, and elderly people, who are less likely to own smart phones. In a suit filed on August 25, 2017, the Center for Food Safety alleged that USDA has violated the Administrative Procedures Act because it has “failed to publicly release the study, or provide for public comment on it.” The complaint further states that, “[b]ecause the results of the electronic/digital link study are a necessary precursor to the development of the final rules, further delay of this process is likely to delay the rules themselves.”
  • The complaint asks the court to establish a court-ordered timeline for USDA to conduct and publicly publish the study, as soon as reasonably practicable, and to solicit and consider public comments.