Under the landmark biotechnology labeling law passed in 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is supposed to have a final rule on the matter published by July 29. Reports indicate that USDA may not meet that deadline.
When speaking to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA has been working on the issue, but “we’re not as close as I’d like” to publishing a final rule, according to a recap published by the North American Millers’ Assn.
“I had insisted last year when I got here that we would meet that deadline,” said Perdue, who was marking his one-year anniversary as secretary of agriculture. “I’m still hoping for (completion) this summer, but it does not look like we will meet the deadline that we had insisted upon."
Perdue said the delays are due in large part to reviews undertaken by the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB). USDA is “somewhat dependent on OMB” during the inter-agency review process, Perdue said, adding that the department requested that the process be expedited but struggled to receive timely input from OMB.
“We turned in our papers on time; the teachers didn’t grade them on time,” Perdue said of OMB. Under the law, USDA had two years from enactment of the law to “establish a national mandatory bio-engineered food disclosure standard with respect to any bio-engineered food and any food that may be bio-engineered” as well as “establish such requirements and procedures as the secretary determines necessary to carry out the standard.”
President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on July 29, 2016, giving USDA about three more months to finish its work in order to meet the statutory deadline.