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USDA Announces Biobased Product Labeling

April 15, 2011
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New label offers marketing opportunities for biobased products.

Manufacturers and vendors of biobased products may now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product label. While many companies claim to be biobased, this label will provide a credible certification for biobased products.

Based on past product analysis, soy-based products represent between one-third and one-quarter of the biobased products in the BioPreferred program. Soy-based products can help replace petrochemicals in a number of products. The United Soybean Board (USB), through a farmer-driven, U.S. soy research and promotion program, remains committed to funding the research, development and commercialization of new industrial uses for soybeans.

“Manufacturers of biobased products can use this label to help encourage sales,” says Ron Buckhalt, program manager, USDA BioPreferred. “The biobased label can help create and add to market share, with the name recognition of USDA to certify that these products are made from biobased content.”

Biobased products already identified within a BioPreferred product procurement category must meet the minimum biobased content of the product category. Products that do not fall under a USDA-identified category must be at least 25% biobased, unless the label applicant applies for and receives an alternative minimum biobased content allowance. Mature market products that had a significant market share in 1972 (e.g., cotton in articles of clothing) are currently excluded from the program.

Applicants should submit a web-based application to the USDA, and the agency will then evaluate each complete application to determine if the product meets the certification criteria. The USDA will respond to applicants within 60 days; applications that have been rejected may be revised and resubmitted.

There is no application fee, but applicants bear the cost of having products tested for biobased content. Products tested by a participating biobased content laboratory between February 20, 2010, and February 20, 2011, will not be required to re-test their products, but should notify the USDA in the “Legacy Tests” section of the online application.

“In the first few weeks of eligibility, we have had over 300 applications and I anticipate a substantial number of applications in the future,” says Buckhalt. “It’s my fervent hope that this becomes the international standard for biobased products and one of these days we will be able to see this label on many more stores.”

To learn more about the BioPreferred program, visit www.biopreferred.gov. To learn more about soy-based products, visit www.soynewuses.org.
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