Organic Advocates Ask CA Judge to Remand the NBFDS
On November 23, organic food industry groups and advocates filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking a California federal judge to declare the USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) invalid, and vacate and remand the rule, as well as to sever constitutionally infirm provisions of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act (the “Act”) and declare them invalid. The plaintiffs, which include Natural Grocers, Citizens for GMO Labeling, Good Earth Natural Foods, National Organic Coalition, and Center for Food Safety, among others, argue that the NBFDS violates the Disclosure Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Constitution. The lawsuit was originally filed on July 27, 2020.
Specifically, the plaintiffs state that the NBFDS falls short of fulfilling the promise of meaningful genetically engineered (GE) food labeling, as intended by the Act. As written in the plaintiffs’ memorandum, the NBFDS “excludes most GE foods from mandatory disclosure, limits the applicable labeling terminology to the obscure “bioengineered,” and allows disclosure in a form never before approved in a federal label – electronic Quick Response (QR) codes – that the Agency itself determined would conceal disclosures from many Americans.” Further, plaintiffs’ argue that the NBFDS forbids retailers from going further than what is permitted by the Standard, and restricts their ability to communicate the presence of GE ingredients or foods using familiar means and terms.
In a statement by their attorney, Meredith Stevenson, the Center for Food Safety noted that “[c]onsumers have fought for decades for their right to know what’s in their food and how it’s produced. But USDA instead used its authority to label GE foods by obscuring this information behind QR codes and unfamiliar technology and omitting the majority of GE foods. Fortunately, the law is [on] consumers’ side."