Thursday, December 20, 2018

Establishing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

Press Release

Establishing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2018 — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, passed by Congress in July of 2016, directed USDA to establish this national mandatory standard for disclosing foods that are or may be bioengineered. The Standard requires food manufacturers, importers and certain retailers to ensure bioengineered foods are appropriately disclosed.
“The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard increases the transparency of our nation’s food system, establishing guidelines for regulated entities on when and how to disclose bioengineered ingredients. This ensures clear information and labeling consistency for consumers about the ingredients in their food,” said Secretary Perdue. “The Standard also avoids a patchwork state-by-state system that could be confusing to consumers.”
The Standard defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature. The implementation date of the Standard is January 1, 2020, except for small food manufacturers, whose implementation date is January 1, 2021. The mandatory compliance date is January 1, 2022. Regulated entities may voluntarily comply with the Standard until December 31, 2021.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) developed the List of Bioengineered Foods to identify the crops or foods that are available in a bioengineered form throughout the world and for which regulated entities must maintain records. The records will inform regulated entities on whether the food must have a bioengineered disclosure to be communicated to consumers. Regulated entities have several disclosure options: text, symbol, electronic or digital link, and/or text message. Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.
The implementation of the Standard concludes a rulemaking process begun in July 2016. AMS gathered information needed to develop the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard and program, in part, through a public comment period. More than 14,000 comments were received and taken into consideration during the rulemaking process. Prior to this, AMS received over 112,000 comments in response to 30 questions provided on the AMS website regarding establishment of the Standard.
The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2018. Following publication of this rule, USDA will provide outreach and education to inform regulated entities and the public about the new disclosure terms. The entire record of the rulemaking is available at

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

On October 19, 2018, USDA officially announced the eradication of pink bollworm

On October 19, 2018, USDA officially announced the eradication of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a devastating pest of cotton crops that first invaded the U.S. over 100 years ago. The first two infestations, Texas in 1917 and Louisiana in 1919, were quickly eliminated. In the 1930s, the pest again invaded the Rio Grande Valley, but this time it proved more difficult to control, and it spread through surrounding states, reaching California by 1963. APHIS started regulating pink bollworm (PBW) in 1955, and 10 states were under quarantine at the height of the program. Over the years, USDA, state departments of agriculture, the U.S. cotton industry, and growers carried out extensive research, regulatory, and control activities in ongoing attempts to eliminate PBW from cotton-producing states. Multi-state activities included using insect pheromones to disrupt mating, planting transgenic cotton expressing insecticidal proteins (Bt cotton), and releasing sterile insects to prevent reproduction.
In 2003, four states remained under quarantine for PBW (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas). In 2011, in order to help support eradication efforts, including extensive trapping to monitor for the presence of PBW, ITP released an identification tool, Pink Bollworm and its Look-Alikes. The tool aimed to support the surveys that were required in each of these four states to ensure eradication of the pest. It included two keys: one for adult moths that can be found in PBW sticky traps, and one for larvae that allowed differentiation between three other species that can be found in cotton bolls.
In his proclamation, Secretary Sonny Perdue states that after five years of extensive trapping, USDA "finds all areas of commercial cotton production in the continental United States free of this costly pest" and removes "all remaining restrictions on the movement of cotton." All PBW quarantines have been lifted, easing the movement of cotton to market both domestically and internationally by eliminating requirements such as fumigation, as well as the costs of monitoring and control.
ITP aims to keep our collection of identification products current, so we are responding to the Secretary’s proclamation by retiring Pink Bollworm and its Look Alikes, since it is no longer needed. This is the first ITP tool we’ve retired, but we see it as good news; we’re pleased to take this action in response to a rare and long-hoped for pest eradication.

Woods note: Thanks to GMO, Bt cotton.

Annual Livestock Scale Inspection

Annual livestock scale inspections for 2019 are right around the corner. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), Standards and Consumer Services Division is currently accepting livestock scale inspection requests through March 31, 2019.

We would appreciate your assistance in promoting our new livestock scale inspection program. If your constituent submitted a routine livestock scale inspection application they should have received an email confirming their enrollment in the program and no further action is required on their part. Their scale(s) will be inspected on a yearly basis. 

If they would like to be part of the routine inspection program and did not submit the required paperwork, they can submit their application to our office via fax, email or mail. Livestock scale owners who do not want to be part of the routine program can continue to contact our office annually, before the March 31 deadline.

Due to the cost of the program, NMDA conducts inspection of livestock scales by request only. Requests made after the March 31st deadline will incur a fee based on our current fee schedule.  We have attached the information regarding our livestock scale inspection program.

Again, we appreciate your assistance in publicizing the livestock scale inspection program in your county and thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 575-646-1616.

Smart drone used to study effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton

 From South West Farm Press.
SWFP-Huguley-Guo-Tech-TexasTechUniversity.jpeg Texas Tech University
Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor in crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture in Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science, uses drones to study the effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton yields.

Smart drone used to study effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton

Drone sensors allow research team to measure and identify the spatial variability of plant growth, as well as the soil moisture within the field.
Fields of cotton, wheat, sorghum and other crops are a common sight in the Texas High Plains, but what you might not expect is to see drones whipping through the air above these fields.
However, if you drive out to a field of cotton about 30 miles north of Texas Tech University, that is exactly what you might see.
Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor in crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture in Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science, is using the drones to study the effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton yields.
"We know in this area water is the number one limiting factor for agricultural production," Guo said. "One of my top priorities for research is to use less water and get the same amount of production or use less water to have an optimized production."
Guo came to Texas Tech University in 2016, and since then he has worked to discover methods of water conservation and efficient water use using precision agriculture technologies while still optimizing yields.
This soon led him to working with South Plains Precision Ag at Plainview, Texas, a company with a variable rate irrigation system, which allows farmers to apply the right amount of water in the right area at the right time in their fields.
However, knowing the timing, location and rate of water application to optimize production is a challenge -- as issue Guo has set out to solve through his research.
Throughout 2017, Guo and his research team applied three different rates of irrigation across a 480-acre cotton field to discover how the crop would respond at different landscape positions of the field.
Studying the responsiveness of the different areas is where the drones have played a key role, said Guo.
The drones, equipped with various sensors, were flown by Guo about 60 meters above the plant canopy. Through the sensors, Guo and his research team were able to measure and identify the spatial variability of plant growth, as well as the soil moisture within the field.
Guo said they discovered variability in several agronomic factors that affected how well the crop responded to different amounts of irrigation. These factors included soil properties and topography – soil texture, organic matter, elevation and slope.
It was discovered that the cotton yield responded well to irrigation in areas with flat land and fertile soils, he said, but it did not respond well to irrigation at areas with high slope and sandy soils.
Because of their varied responses to irrigation, these agronomic factors were shown to affect yield potential in those different areas of the same field. By applying less irrigation to areas with high slope and sandy soils and areas without crops, farmers can use less water and get the same or a better return on their investments.
"Those factors all affect the water availability for plant growth and also the final yield," Guo said. "If we adjust our allocation of irrigation water, matching the yield potential in the field, our water use efficiency will be optimized."
Guo said this research could prove to be beneficial for farmers who produce various types of crops. He said he knows many types of agricultural fields have a substantial amount of variation in soil properties and topography, and he recognizes this research could apply to other crops in the future.
Using precision agriculture technologies to identify and measure variability could lead to farmers using less water and more sustainable agriculture in this region, Guo said.
"Based on this study," Guo said, "we can design a strategy to optimize the allocation of irrigation water in the field to save water or improve water use efficiency. The result would be better profitability for the farmer.

FDA: Livestock antibiotic usage falls by one-third

FDA: Livestock antibiotic usage falls by one-third

By Spencer Chase

Usage of medically important antibiotics in food production has fallen sharply in the wake of new restrictions on how farms can employ the drugs, the Food and Drug Administration says.   Sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials dropped 33 percent between 2016 and 2017 and have declined 41 percent since 2015,  the peak year for usage, according to FDA data released Tuesday....Gottlieb noted that 2017 was the first year medically important antimicrobials “were no longer allowed to be used for growth promotion and could only be obtained through a veterinarian’s order.”  FDA’s Guidance #213 was intended to end the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion