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, 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.


By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 1, 2018, the Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for its delay in the establishment of a national mandatory bioengineered (BE) food disclosure standard. In its lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that AMS’ failure to implement a final rule is “inimical to the democratic process” and damaging to the public and stakeholders. On May 4, 2018, USDA announced a request for comments on the proposed new rule under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 on the establishment of a national mandatory BE food disclosure standard. The proposed rule would require food manufacturers and labelers to unveil information to consumers about BE foods. The notice also included a request for comments on AMS’ intent to request approval by the Office of Management and Budget for information collection on the proposed BE disclosure standard. Comments on this proposed rule were due on July 3, 2018, with a final ruling to be made on or before July 29, 2018, according to the 2016 Public Law 114-216. AMS received over 14,000 comments out of which USDA staff claim to still be sorting through, meaning a final ruling has not yet been made and many entities are not happy about this.

Tags: USDA, BE, GE


By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service publicized two application cycles for applications for funds available under the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (BAP). The loans under the aforementioned program are designed to encourage the proliferation of biobased practices that use “technologically new commercial scale processing and manufacturing equipment to convert renewable chemicals and other biobased outputs of biorefineries into end-user products, on a commercial scale.” Applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on October 1, 2018, or during the second application cycle, by 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 1, 2019.


By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) signaled on June 29, 2018, its intent to prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) in connection with potential changes to the regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered [(GE)] organisms.”  The EIS will have a significant impact on how APHIS chooses to amend its regulation of GE organisms.  APHIS requested comment on issues to be considered in preparing the EIS, as well as how to define the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts.  Comments are due July 30, 2018.
Our full memorandum provides some background, context, and a commentary regarding APHIS’ announcement.  



By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced it was amending the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 sections that designate product categories within which biobased products will be afforded federal procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors via a final rule.  83 Fed. Reg. 31841.  The Federal Register publication states that this final rule “designates the proposed product categories within which biobased products will be afforded Federal procurement preference” and that “USDA has determined that each of the product categories being designated under this rulemaking meets the necessary statutory requirements; that they are being produced with biobased products; and that their procurement will carry out the following objectives of section 9002:  to improve demand for biobased products; to spur development of the industrial base through value-added agricultural processing and manufacturing in rural communities; and to enhance the Nation’s energy security by substituting biobased products for products derived from imported oil and natural gas.”
The final rule revises the definition of the following categories in an effort to clarify or add examples of intermediates that can be included in each of these categories:

  • Intermediates -- plastic resins (revised to include the term “polymers”);
  • Intermediates -- chemicals (revised to list additional materials such as viscosity reducers, rheology modifiers, adhesion agents, polyols, and polymers);
  • Intermediates -- paint and coating components (revised to add additional examples of paint and coating components, such as humectants, open time additives, and polymers); and
  • Intermediates -- binders (revised to expand on the types of chemicals that typically make up binders, to include examples of materials that binders can be used to formulate, and to include the phrase “binders are generally polymers or polymer precursors (such as epoxies) and include the polymeric materials used to formulate coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers”).
This final rule will become effective on August 9, 2018.


By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it was seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and a preliminary Plant Pest Risk Assessment (PPRA) prepared in response to a petition from Nuseed Americas Inc. (Nuseed) to deregulate a canola variety genetically engineered to convert oleic acid to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  83 Fed. Reg. 29742.  APHIS will thoroughly review and consider all public input submitted during the comment period, and use the information as it works to complete, and then publish, final environmental documents and its regulatory determination.

The Federal Register notice states that APHIS’ draft PPRA “has concluded that canola designated as event B0050–027, which has been genetically engineered to accumulate the long chain omega-3 fatty acid known as [DHA] in seed, is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk” and APHIS’ draft EA presents two alternatives “based on our analysis of data submitted by Nuseed, a review of other scientific data, field tests conducted under APHIS oversight, and comments received on the petition.”  The alternatives are:  “(1) Take no action, i.e., APHIS would not change the regulatory status of canola designated as event B0050-027, or (2) make a determination of nonregulated status of canola designated as event B0050-027.”  APHIS requests comments to be submitted by July 26, 2018.


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