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What are you eating?

27 March 2012, 11:04

Recently the African Centre for Bio diversity did testing on four products, and found the following:

Future Life Energy Meal contained 100% genetically modified maize and 36% soyabean. Impala Maize meal contained 66% genetically modified maize. Wheat Free Pronutro contained 90% genetically modified maize and 71% soyabean. Cerelac Honey (Nestle) 77% genetically modified maize.

None of these products were labelled as containing genetically modified ingredients, in spite of the fact that the law now requires them to do so, and many other producers whose products have not been tested have also failed to comply with this law.

National Consumer Commission has been quoted in the Saturday Star on the 24th February 2012 as saying the following 
“ .... the NCC has at no time given any person or entity an exemption from the compliance with the provision of the GMO regulations. We actually do not have the authority to grant any such exemptions.”

As consumers who pay for these products, we are all entitled to know the ingredients of any and all consumer goods and are also entitled to choose which goods we deem to be part of our daily diet without being hood winked into believing that a product is one thing, when in fact it is something completely different.

The law is as follows:

Applicability of the GM labelling provisions of the CPA and Consumer Goods Regulations(a) Legislative Context(i) Consumer Protection ActThe CPA commenced on 31 March 2011. Amongst other things, the CPA contains provisions relating to labelling and trade descriptions for goods. Section 24(6) provides that any person who produces, supplies, imports or packages any prescribed goods must display on, or in association with the packaging of those goods, a notice in the prescribed manner and form that discloses the presence of any GM ingredients or components of those goods in accordance with applicable regulations.

(ii) The Consumer Goods RegulationsOn 1 April 2011, the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) promulgated the Consumer Goods Regulations in terms of section 120(1) of the CPA. Regulation 7 stipulates that the Consumer Goods Regulations apply to goods approved for commercialisation by the Executive Council for GMOs.

The regulation applies to all such goods which contain at least 5% of GMOs (irrespective of whether they were made or manufactured in the Republic or elsewhere), and to marketing material in respect of such goods.

 Such goods may not be produced, supplied, imported or packaged unless a notice meeting the requirements of section 22 of the CPA is applied to such good or marketing material, in a conspicuous and easily legible manner and size stating, without change, that the good or ingredient or component “contains Genetically Modified Organisms”.

  With regard to goods that are intentionally and directly produced using genetic modification processes, the goods or marketing material must be labelled, meeting the requirements of section 22 of the Act, without change, as “Produced using genetic modification”.

The regulations prohibit a section 22 notice from stating that a good or ingredient or component does not contain GMOs unless it contains less than 1% GMOs,but may state that the level of GMOs contained is less than 5%.

The regulations go on to provide that, if it is scientifically impractical or not feasible to test such goods for the presence of GMOs or ingredients, the section 22 notice must state in a conspicuous and easily legible manner and size that the goods “May contain genetically modified ingredients”.

For further information see: GM Labelling in South Africa: The Law Demystified. http://acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/Opinion%20on%20GM%20Food%20Labelling%20Remedies-21%20March%202012.pdf

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