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USDA Proposes Rule for Creation of a Voluntary Biobased Product Labeling Program

Public is invited to comment on proposed program

New York, Aug 11, 2009

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a proposed rule that seeks to establish a voluntary labeling program for biobased products. The new program will allow product manufacturers and vendors to label a product that meets certain designated requirements as a “USDA Certified Biobased Product,” promoting the sale and use of biobased products in the commercial sector.

Biobased products are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials. The USDA currently supports the use of biobased products through its BioPreferred program, which oversees a preferred procurement program for Federal agencies. BioPreferred will also oversee this proposed voluntary labeling program.

Any biobased products that meet USDA minimum biobased content requirements are eligible for the label. These requirements are broken down into two groups:

  • Products in designated item categories: these are biobased products that meet percent biobased content standards for the product categories set up by the BioPreferred preferred procurement program.

  • Products not within designated categories: biobased products that do not fall into one of the designated item categories must meet a 51 percent content requirement, unless USDA approves an alternative minimum biobased content.

  • Manufacturers and vendors who use the USDA biobased label will be required to provide relevant information for the products in question on the USDA BioPreferred website.

"Increasing the purchase and use of biobased products is a priority of the Obama administration because it helps increase our nation's energy security and independence by using American agricultural products, while spurring economic development in rural areas," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "Consumers want to make more informed product choice decisions, and BioPreferred will help them. This label will help consumers, businesses and Federal government purchasers to easily identify biobased products."

BioPreferred encourages interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 29, 2009. To submit comments go to For more information, see the USDA news release and the BioPreferred proposed rule summary.

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