Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
GMO Labeling: President Obama Signs Federal GMO Labeling Legislation
On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed into law S.764 which creates the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law. The new law authorizes a national labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and preempts state GMO labeling laws. As a result of the enacted legislation, the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service announced that the department “has established a working group to develop a timeline for rulemaking and to ensure an open and transparent process for effectively establishing this new program.”
Water Quality: DEP Announces Availability of Draft 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report
On July 30, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that the department is making available for public comment DEP’s draft 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. According to DEP, the draft report “includes both a narrative description of the Commonwealth's water quality management programs (formerly the Federal Clean Water Act section 305(b) Report) and waterbody-specific lists depicting the status of Commonwealth surface waters as required by section 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C.A. § 1313(d)).” Public comment on the draft report will be accepted by DEP through September 12, 2016.
GE Cultivation: Unapproved GE Wheat Discovered in Washington State
On July 29, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that the department “has confirmed the discovery by a farmer of 22 genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State.” APHIS stated that the GE wheat in question “was developed by the Monsanto Company and is referred to as MON 71700.” According to APHIS, no evidence exists that the GE wheat has entered into commerce.
Pesticide Ruling: EPA Appeals Board Upholds Cancellation of Flubendiamide
On July 29, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Appeals Board upheld a cancelation notice regarding the pesticide flubendiamide. According to the ruling, Bayer CropScience LP and Nichino America, Inc., the registrants of flubeniamide, had improperly refused to voluntarily cancel flubendiamide after the Pesticide Program concluded that the pesticide had caused “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” The Appeals Board did hold, however, that the “Pesticide Program’s determination to prohibit the continued sale and distribution of existing stocks of flubendiamide end-use products by distributors and retailers other than Bayer and Nichino is not supported by the record.”
Food Safety: USDA Announces Final Rule for Peanut Handling
On August 1, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule “implement[ing] a recommendation from the Peanut Standards Board (Board) to revise the minimum quality and handling standards for domestic and imported peanuts marketed in the United States” (81 FR 50283). According to AMS, the final rule “revises the minimum quality, positive lot identification, and reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the Standards…[and] also makes numerous other changes to better reflect current industry practices and revises outdated language.” The effective date of the final rule is August 31, 2016.
International Trade: Brazil Reopens Market to U.S. Beef
On August 1, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release announcing that an agreement has been reached with “Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply to allow access for U.S. beef and beef products to the Brazilian market for the first time since 2003.” According to USDA, “Brazil's action reflects the United States' negligible risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and aligns Brazil's regulations to the OIE's scientific international animal health guidelines.”