Local food companies had been hiding large amounts of genetically modified organism (GMO) content behind the “may contain GMOs” label, but this might soon come to an end with possible changes to labelling regulations, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) said this week. In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, food producers, importers and packagers are required to label food products in which GMOs make up more than 5 percent and state the level of the GMO content.
“But there has been a loophole,” ACB consumer campaigner Zakiyya Ismail said. Ismail said that labelling regulations were clear in most respects except for a slight technicality in the wording of the regulation.
ACB’s latest report, “Below the belt, below the breadline – South Africa’s inequitable and GM-contaminated bread industry”, showed that most of the country’s white bread contained high levels of Monsanto’s genetically modified soya beans in the soya flour. For example, Checkers white bread, which contained 91.09 percent of genetically modified content in its soya flour, had no warning label and no ingredients label.
“So because the Consumer Protection Act only allows the ‘May contain GMOs’ label to be used where it is scientifically impractical to test for the GMO content, most food producers hide behind this,” Ismail said.
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