The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) announced the pilot launch of its new online permitting system: APHIS eFile. Launching on July 23, 2019, APHIS will be inviting, at the end of May, those who have been issued a BRS permit or notification in the past two years to apply for the pilot program. The plan is for BRS to transition fully to APHIS eFile in November 2019 to allow applicants who join the pilot to learn the system. The pilot will be a way for APHIS BRS to test the new system in a real-world environment. Replacing the ePermits system, APHIS eFile, is expected to reduce regulatory burdens and offer intuitive, user-friendly digital experiences. Applicants who do not participate in the pilot should continue to apply for BRS permits using the old system until APHIS eFile’s full release.

Tags: USDA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the reopening of the public review and comment period for the draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) and the preliminary Pest Risk Assessment (PRA). These two documents have been prepared in response to a permit application from a company requesting the environmental release of genetically engineered (GE) Citrus tristeza virus (CTV). The reopening of comments is the result of a new research paper released after the initial comment period back in the summer of 2018. The research paper examines the movement of CTV, which could raise questions regarding the transmissibility of GE CTV. Updates to the dEIS and PRA have been made according to the new information obtained. While the dEIS evaluated the environmental impacts that could result from approving the permit application, the preliminary PRA analyzes the GE plant virus as a biological control measure and its potential to pose a risk to plant health. In its announcement, USDA APHIS clearly states that applying GE CTV does not mean that the trees are themselves GE. The permit application requests the approval for the use of GE CTV as a biological control agent that would help manage citrus greening disease. Instead, a gene from spinach is delivered to the tree’s circulatory system. Comments must be submitted on or prior to April 30, 2019.

Tags: USDA, APHIS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a request for comments on two documents related to the potential deregulation of a canola variety genetically engineered (GE) to convert oleic acid to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaeonic acid (EPA), as well as for resistance to an imidazolinone herbicide. The documents are a draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) and a draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment (dPPRA). While the dEA analyzes potential issues and environmental impacts, the dPPRA examines any plant pest risks. DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids that support brain development and protect neurological function. The aforementioned GE canola accumulates higher concentrations of these fatty acids. Therefore, in a petition submitted by BASF Corporation (BASF), it stated that this canola provides a plant-based and scalable production system for omega 3-fatty acids that can be another source of EPA and DHA for consumers either as a food ingredient or as an aquaculture feed ingredient. Based on BASF’s statement and the draft documents, USDA will be accepting comments until May 6, 2019. APHIS intends to thoroughly review and consider the information provided in the completion of the final environmental documents and regulatory determinations.

Tags: USDA, APHIS, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee.   84 Fed. Reg. 9769.  The meeting will take place in Arlington, Virginia, on March 27 - 28, 2019, and will include discussions on developing advice and guidance promoting R&D leading to the production of biobased fuels and products.  The tentative agenda includes updates not only on DOE Biomass R&D activities, but also on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass R&D activities.  Presentations from government and industry can also be expected to provide insight on the intersection of forest health and bioenergy growth.  DOE will allow oral statements to be made during the meeting and will also be accepting written comments either before or after the meeting.  Meeting minutes will be available for public review and copying on the Biomass Board’s website.

Tags: DOE, USDA, Biomass

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 19, 2019, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) announced the delay of the spring release for BRS’ updated permitting system in APHIS eFile.  The release is now expected to occur in mid-summer 2019, with periodic updates provided by APHIS BRS as the anticipated release approaches.  In its announcement, APHIS BRS highlighted its commitment to bringing a permitting system that takes advantage of USDA’s current capabilities and brings new features previously not available.

Tags: USDA, APHIS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On, March 12, 2019, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the publication of two draft documents related to the potential deregulation of a soybean variety GE for increased yield and resistance to the herbicide glufosinate.  The draft documents are Draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment (PPRA) and Draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) for Petition to Deregulate GE Soybean for Increased Yield and Herbicide Resistance. The PPRA will examine any plant pest risks and the dEA will analyze the potential issues and environmental impacts.  The draft documents can be accessed here, and the official notice of the review period can be viewed in the March 13, 2019, Federal Register.  84 Fed. Reg. 9077.  Comments are due by April 12, 2019.

Tags: USDA, Soybean, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service announced a final rule on the National Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS).  The rule, which will be effective on February 19, 2019, and implemented on January 1, 2020, established the new mandatory NBFDS addressing genetically modified (GM) labeling. Food manufacturers, importers, and other entities that label foods for retail will be obligated to disclose information about BE food and BE food ingredients. An extended implementation date has been set for small food manufacturers, with a deadline of January 1, 2021. Established under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, NBSDF is intended to provide a uniform national standard in disclosing the status of BE foods to consumers. Voluntary compliance ends on December 31, 2021, with mandatory compliance starting on January 1, 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), in New Mexico, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in California, received the Excellence in BioPreferred Procurement Awards for Fiscal Year 2018. Both LANL and LLNL are U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories and have been awarded for the testing and adoption of biobased products within their operations. The awards reflect the laboratories’ achievements in advancing the objectives of USDA’s BioPreferred Federal Purchasing Preference Program. In their welding shop, LANL adopted a biobased lubricant used on metal-cutting machinery to replace the traditional oil-based lubricants formerly used. The biobased lubricant is not only more efficient, but also ensures safer work areas by reducing the potential for slips and falls. In addition, the biobased lubricant reduces the number of labor hours it takes to complete the welding operations and the costs for waste disposal. LLNL, on the other hand, converted all food service ware to biobased and compostable products, collecting 68 metric tons of compostable waste for reuse and recycling.

Tags: USDA, DOE, Research

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In late September 2018, Northwestern University announced a new bioengineering project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under their joint program called the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). Led by Michael Jewett, professor of chemical and biological engineering, the project aims to combine innovative bioengineering and biotechnology to develop biofuels and bioproducts. It is expected that through the capture of syngas from industrial manufacture companies, before they are released into the atmosphere, biofuel feedstock will be produced. The team intends to develop a cellular factory that will have the ability to metabolize a biofuel by reversing the biochemical process that creates fatty acids from bacteria. The project’s budget (funded by DOE and USDA) is $1.6 million based on a three-year contract.

Tags: DOE, USDA, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 14, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced a proposal to amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement. Under this amendment, 30 sections will be added to determine categories within which biobased products “would be afforded procurement preference by Federal agencies and their contractors.” These categories include products that are made from intermediate ingredients that were formerly proposed for designation for federal procurement preference. In its proposed amendment, USDA is suggesting a minimum biobased content for each of these product categories. The aim is to amend the existing designated categories of firearm lubricants, water clarifying agents, general purpose de-icers, and laundry products to align them to the data gathered since these categories were originally designated. Comments must be submitted on or before November 13, 2018.


 
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