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December 20, 2019

Implementation Of U.S. NBFDS To Begin In January 2020

Lynn L Bergeson

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

The implementation date of the United States (U.S.) National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) is January 1, 2020. Adopted in February 2019 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS), the NBFDS regulations (7 C.F.R. Part 66) directed USDA to establish a national mandatory standard for disclosing foods that are or may be bioengineered (BE). NBFDS requires food manufacturers, importers, and certain retailers to disclose information about whether food offered for sale is BE or uses BE food ingredients. Designed to inform consumers about the food they are purchasing, AMS developed a list of BE foods to identify crops or foods that are available in BE form. In this case, USDA defines BE 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 list includes any BE crops or foods that are in legal production somewhere in the world and is to be updated by AMS annually. Because new BE crops and foods continue to be developed, even if a food is not listed, regulated entities whose records show that a food they are selling is BE must make the appropriate food disclosure. The NBFDS timeline is as follows:

  • Implementation Date: January 1, 2020, for large food manufacturers; January 1, 2021, for small food manufacturers;
  • Voluntary Compliance Date: ends on December 31, 2021; and
  • Mandatory Compliance Date: January 1, 2022.

A decision tool has been made available by USDA to guide regulated entities subject to NBFDS in determining whether compliance with the law is necessary. The tool is to be used for each individual ingredient that may be used in a food. Frequently asked questions (FAQ) are also available.