Know much about biology? Feds seek to boost awareness

The U.S. Department of Agriculture names first products to get its BioPreferred labeling designation, including household cleansers and cleaning products.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

This one is for all the people who commented on my last post about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred program, which is supposed to designate products that contain a certain minimum of renewable plant or animal materials. (Note to self: Must get a grip on serious definition for "animal materials." It sounds just wrong.)

Even though some (many?) of you question the credibility of a federal labeling program of this nature, the news is that the USDA has picked the first products to bear this label. The government is going to use the certification logo to guide federal procurement but the theoretical push is that it could also help consumers better understand the bio-based content of what they are buying. Assuming you were wondering.

Approximately 100 companies have submitted applications covering approximately 400 products since the launch in January, according to the USDA. The first ones to earn the label are: Nutek Green, Seventh Generation, Betco, Clear Lam Packaging, DuPont, ElastiKote, Green Earth Technologies, National Industries for the Blind Agencies (?), NatureWorks, Rochester Midland, and Bio-Lub Canada.

Here you are, folks, the requisite feel-good, job creation quote from USDA Deputy Secretary:

"When consumers see the BioPreferred label in a store, they'll know that the product or its packaging is made from renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. From bioplastics to plant-based cleaners, from industrial lubricants and construction products to personal care items, this ever-growing list of biobased products helps create jobs in rural communities by adding value to agricultural commodities and can reduce our dependence on import oil."

Rhetorical question to self: Should a company get credit for bio-based packaging if the product itself has a less-than positive impact on the environment?

Regardless, here we go folks. Have at it. The real test is to see whether this label will have a real impact or whether this sort of differentiation would be better left in the hands of the private sector.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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