The Department of Trade and Industry has published draft regulations of the Consumer Protection Act. The section dealing with the labelling of Genetically Modified (GM) food is so weak and ineffective that it still leaves consumers in the dark about GM Food. We have until the 31st of January to submit comments to the department. The ACB and SAFeAGE will be making detailed submissions to the department to strengthen the legislation and hence securing the Consumer’s Right To Know, by demanding that all GM foods be labelled, a 1% threshold be set and that loopholes to exempt labelling be removed.
Sign the petition to tell the Department of Trade and Industry that we demand strong and effective legislation. It is OUR RIGHT TO KNOW.
- The regulations only apply to 3 GM food types, namely, maize, soyabean and imported canola oil. Thus, any new approvals of GMOs such as GM potatoes and GM salmon will not be covered by the regulations. We want the regulations to specify that any new GM food crop approved will also be covered by the regulations, without the need for legislative amendments.
- The regulations do not require labelling of food containing less than 5% GM content, make allowances for technically unavoidable or adventitious presence. Thus, the regulations allow companies to avoid labelling products where the GM ingredient in a food product contains less than 5% of GM content. A 5% threshold not only denies us Our Right To Know, but is misleading. Consumers will be under the false impression that food containing less than 5% GM content is actually GM Free. To be fair to the consumer, the regulations must specify that the threshold level applies to each GM ingredient in the product and that the threshold is 1% and not 5%.
- The regulations have created a loophole that allows companies to avoid specific labelling and rely on the more ambiguous label, “May contain GM…” on the grounds that it is not feasible or possible for them to test for the presence of GM. This ‘opt out’ provision will render labelling of GM food ineffective and meaningless and deny us Our Right to Know.Download the regulations of the Consumer Protection Act from http://www.dti.gov.za/ccrd/cpa_regulations.htm. Provisions dealing with Labelling of GM Foods are on Page 20.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH PROPOSED GM LABELLING REGULATIONS
Limited And Short Sighted
The Act only requires foods containing GM Maize, Soya Bean and Imported Canola oil to be labelled.
As a result, a large proportion of foods are not covered by the Act. These include:
- Foods containing cottonseed oil from GM cotton
- Milk, Eggs, Chicken and Meat from animals raised on GM foods
- Milk from cows that have been given the GM growth hormone
- GM Potatoes (If South Africa allows commercial cultivation of GM Potatoes)
- Any foods containing Canola Oil from locally grown GM Canola (if it is approved in SA)
- Foods containing artificial sweeteners derived from GM Maize
Up to 5% Allowance is too High
With the current proposal if a food product has GM content of up to 5%, it need not be labelled. This proposal of 5% of GM presence will allow companies to introduce a HIGHER % OF GM ingredients into THE FOOD CHAIN WITHOUT LABELLING. Furthermore, our European trading partners only tolerate a 0.9% threshold. It makes sense to set our local threshold at the same level so that we develop one segregation system for local and international foods.
There is no difference in cost to test for 1% or 5%.
Loopholes Allow Companies to be exempt from labelling
The Act allows companies to avoid labelling foods by simply declaring that it was not possible or feasible to test for GM content, thus rendering all the GM related legislation weak and ineffective. Thus the consumer’s right to know and freedom of choice is wholly undermined with this one single clause.