February 16, 2015

TO: JPA Members

FROM: Patricia Faison

RE: JPA Regulatory Update
(1) Federal Legislation Introduced in Congress to Require the Labeling of GE Foods
(2) Massachusetts Introduces GE Food Labeling Legislation
(3) USDA Approves Genetically Engineered Apples
(4) Pesticide Petitions Filed

Federal Legislation Introduced in Congress to Require the Labeling of GE Foods
According to an article recently published by Food Safety News, available here, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the “Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act,” which would require the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. JPA members were previously notified of similar legislation introduced in 2013 (113th Congress) by these lawmakers; however, the legislation was not passed. Some of the details related to H.B. 913 and S. 511 are available via the LegiScan website. The text of the legislation has not yet been posted.

A press release issued by Representative DeFazio states the legislation would require a GE food to identify the GE ingredients in the ingredient list on the label. In addition, a GE food would not be able to bear a “natural” claim. Representative DeFazio also notes the legislation would resolve concerns about the “patchwork” of state-based labeling standards by requiring the FDA to implement a federal labeling standard.

JPA will continue to monitor and provide updates, as information becomes available.

Massachusetts Introduces GE Food Labeling Legislation
JPA has been providing updates regarding state-based initiatives to implement mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. According to the February 12, 2015 issue of Food Chemical News, a bill to mandate the labeling of all foods containing genetically modified ingredients has been introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Information published by the Massachusetts Coalition for GMO Labeling, available here, states the legislation, “Genetic Engineering Transparency Food and Seed Labeling Act” (H.D. 369) is modeled after labeling bills passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. The legislation requires food sold in the state that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering to be labeled with the statement, “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering.” In addition, such foods would be prohibited from bearing a “natural” claim. The legislation would exempt foods containing less than 0.9 percent genetically engineered ingredients and food from animals that have not been genetically engineered.

According to the Coalition, the legislation does not contain a “trigger” clause. As you may recall, the laws in Maine and Connecticut cannot be enacted until neighboring states pass similar GE food labeling laws. If passed, the law will become effective on January 1, 2017.

JPA will continue to monitor and provide updates, as information becomes available.

USDA Approves Genetically Engineered Apples
JPA staff has previously provided updates regarding the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) review of a petition from Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (British Columbia, Canada) seeking a determination that apples, which have been genetically engineered (GE) to resist browning (known as “ArcticTM Apples”), should not be regulated under 7 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 340 (i.e., the apples do not pose a plant pest risk).

The USDA recently issued a press release, available here, announcing its decision to deregulate Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden apples. The Agency notes the “plant pest risk assessment finds the GE apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the U.S.” Okanagan Specialty Fruits is engaging in a voluntary food safety assessment consultation with the FDA related to the apples.

Additional details may be obtained via the USDA’s Questions and Answers documents available here.

Pesticide Petitions Filed
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a notice in the Federal Register (80 FR 7559; February 11, 2015), available here, announcing the receipt of several pesticide petitions requesting the establishment or modification of pesticide regulations. Of particular note, a petition has been received from Syngenta Crop Protection requesting that the tolerances for difenoconazole in or on pome fruit group 11-10 be increased from 1 parts per million (ppm) to 3 ppm. An increase in the residue level for difenoconazole, from 4.5 ppm to 7.5 ppm, has also been requested for wet apple pomace.

The deadline to submit comments to EPA is March 13, 2015.

As always, please contact me with questions or comments.

Patricia Faison

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