Overnight Regulation: FDA raises concerns over GMO labeling bill

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Thursday here in Washington and we're ready for a long weekend. 

Here's the latest.  

 

THE BIG STORY 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expressing concerns with a new bipartisan compromise to address the national fight over the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The agreement, which could get a procedural vote on the Senate floor as early as next week, would require the Agriculture Secretary to create within two years a national mandatory disclosure standard for food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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The bill allows producers to put a telephone number for consumers to dial or a QR code on product labels that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if the product contains GMOs.

In technical comments submitted to the Senate Agriculture Committee, the agency said the rules that would come from the Agriculture Department could conflict with FDA labeling requirements.

"For example, depending on what USDA requires for small packages, it is possible that a manufacturer would not be able to fit both FDA's required statements and USDA's required information on the label," according to a copy of the comments obtained by the Center for Food Safety.

The agency also said the draft bill's definition of "bioengineering" is confusing and could narrow the scope of foods that would be required to have a disclosure statement.

The bill, authored by Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Cash surge puts more Senate races in play Poll shows Sen. Gary Peters with slim lead over GOP rival in Michigan MORE (D-Mich.) and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Pressure builds on Pompeo as impeachment inquiry charges ahead GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Kan.), defines bioengineering as food "that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant DNA techniques; and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature."

The FDA said the phrase "contains genetic material" likely means that many foods from genetically engineered sources, such as oil made from GE soy, would not have any genetic material in it and therefore not be covered by the legislation.

The agency also took issue with the phrase "could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature."

"It may be difficult to demonstrate that a particular modification could not be obtained through conventional breeding or even that it could not occur in nature," the agency said.

The FDA would not comment on the technical comments it submitted to the committee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not taken a position on the bill," Theresa Eisenman, an agency spokeswoman, said. "The FDA, similar to other federal agencies, provides technical assistance on draft legislation at the request of Congress. The FDA does not comment on its interactions with Congress."  

Here's the full story. http://bit.ly/29bl6aM

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY 

The Obama administration will publish 225 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Friday's edition of the Federal Register. 

The Social Security Administration is revising the criteria used to evaluate disability claims that involve neurological disorders in adults and children.

The agency said it's revising the listings for evaluating neurological disorders to update the medical criteria, provide additional methods of evaluating neurological disorders, provide more information on how to evaluate neurological disorders, make other changes that reflect on program experience and address adjudicator questions. http://bit.ly/29d335M

The Agriculture Department will propose a rule to allow bone-in ovine meat from Uruguay to be imported into the U.S. under certain circumstances.

Ovine meat is lamb or mutton. The rule aims to allow some meat to enter the U.S. market while still protecting residents from dangerous and destructive communicable diseases like foot-and-mouth disease. http://bit.ly/29iBoy8

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to establish requirements for filing information electronically when regulated products are imported into the U.S.

The agency said the number of imported products it regulates has grown steadily, from approximately 6 million import lines in 2002 to over 35 million import lines in 2015. The agency said the influx has created some enforcement problems. http://bit.ly/29u58Hf

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Dodd-Frank backers heap praise on GE Capital decision http://bit.ly/29iwwZJ

Regulators close 'loophole' in fees for fossil fuel extraction http://bit.ly/299aVSB

Labor Department increases fines for violations http://bit.ly/296Eqnd

Fox News avoids sanctions over GOP debate in partisan vote http://bit.ly/299u9rl

Federal safety board foresees new role in era of driverless cars http://bit.ly/297MhTz

Digital liberties group pushes back on DHS info sharing guidelines http://bit.ly/29dqk7O

Tom Dem welcomes industry TV box plan http://bit.ly/295wZMd

UK unveils tough new climate goal http://bit.ly/299ux9o

EU expected to approve data transfer deal within weeks: report http://bit.ly/298RR9D

Senators press Obama education chief on reforms http://bit.ly/29e7FYg

Gay marriage, a year later – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/295iIPE

 

BY THE NUMBERS 

322,500: Foreign facilities manufacturing FDA-regulated products that were imported or offered for import in 2014. http://bit.ly/29u58Hf

$124,709: New top civil penalty for serious Occupational Health and Safety Administration violations. http://bit.ly/296Eqnd

(Source: The Food and Drug Administration and OSHA)

 

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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