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USDA Proposes Label for Bio-based Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a labeling system to identify products made with renewable plant, animal and other bio-based materials.

The BioPreferred labeling proposal is an outgrowth of the federal government's BioPreferred purchasing program, which was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded the program to also promote the sale of bio-based products outside of the government.

The proposal would set up a system in which companies could voluntarily apply the BioPreferred label to their products. The USDA has already identified more than 15,000 bio-based products in about 200 categories.

The USDA hopes that a labeling system for bio-based products would help consumers, businesses and governments easily identify bio-based products, and also act as a marketing tool for the product makers and vendors.

The USDA defines bio-based products as items that are made up entirely or mostly of biological ingredients like plant, animal, marine and forestry materials. A product would be able to use the BioPreferred label if it meets or exceeds the USDA's minimum content requirements.

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