Deanna Smith—Research Assistant
M. Sean High—Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
Food Labeling: Citizens Petition filed over Non-GMO Label
On September 24, 2018, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) filed a citizen’s petition under 21 U.S.C. 343, alleging that the “Non-GMO” Project language and Butterfly logo on consumer products “deceives consumers through false and misleading claims” about the food to which it pertains. The petition refers to, and relies on, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) which defines misbranded food as any food with false or misleading labeling or advertising. Accordingly, FFDCA outlaws labels that are false and misleading. ITIF based its petition on four statements of grounds pertaining to the Non-GMO Project and Butterfly logo, alleging that it “wrongly stigmatizes so called ‘GMOs,’” makes false claims about food health and safety which is conveyed through the Butterfly logo, makes false claims about the science of GMO safety, and is prohibited by FFDCA.
Animal Welfare: ARS Publishes Notice of Intent to Grant Exclusive License on Development of Vaccine for African Swine Fever
On October 15, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) published notice in the federal register of the intention to grant to Zoetis, LLC, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, exclusive license to two patents pertaining to a possible vaccine for African Swine Fever (ASF). According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease caused by a DNA virus that results in high mortality rates among wild and domestic swine. While ASF does not pose a risk to human health, the notice stated that it was in “the public interest to so license these inventions,” allowing for a possible vaccine to be developed to counter the threat of ASF. This comes at a time when ASF is gaining momentum through Europe and Asia. According to Farm Journal’s PORK, this week saw the largest farm to date report an ASF outbreak in China. Public comments on this notice must be received by November 14, 2018.
Biofuels: President announces Plans to Remove Ethanol Restrictions
On October 9, 2018, President Trump announced administration plans to allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently bans use of E15 from June 1 through September 15 as a way to limit ozone, which can cause smog during the hotter summer months. Typically, gasoline sold during the summer months contains 10% ethanol. The announcement follows previous comments by the President stating that the banning of E15 during the summer was “ridiculous” and “unnecessary” and that his administration would seek to remove the EPA restrictions.
Pesticides: Study Shows Herbicides may lead to Antibiotic Resistance
On October 12, 2018, PHYS.ORG reported that a University of Canterbury study has found that bacteria exposed to glyphosate and dicamba may develop antibiotic resistance at a rate of 100,000 times faster than bacteria not exposed to the herbicides. One of the study’s authors, Professor Jack Heinemann, asserted that the results show that the herbicides may interfere with the treatment of certain bacteria caused diseases. According to Professor Heinemann, the study demonstrates that "[t]he combination of chemicals to which bacteria are exposed in the modern environment should be addressed alongside antibiotic use if we are to preserve antibiotics in the long-term."
From National Ag Law Experts:
OHIO AGRICULTURAL LAW BLOG—THE AG LAW HARVEST, Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Agricultural and Resource Law Program, Ohio State University Extension (October 12, 2018)
Episode #3 of Ag Law Today: Agriculture Mediation Programs, Cari Rinker, Rinker Law (October 10, 2018)
HR 1134: Resolution urging the U.S. Congress to include certain industrial Hemp language in the 2018 Farm Bill (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, October 10, 2018)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Executive Board: Statements of Policy
Penn State Research
USDA works to improve community infrastructure – Morning AgClips
Hartzler says dairy win in USMCA is huge – Brownfield Ag News
Flooding from Hurricane Michael creates food safety issues across South – Food Safety News
Bayer may sell its animal health business – Farm Futures
Farmers plead guilty in organic grain fraud scheme – Morning AgClips
Battle of Lake Erie continues over watershed orders – Farm and Dairy
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