Label GMOs and Stop SA Consumers from being Bullied!

I originally posted this in Posted on August 8, 2014

It’s been almost 3 years since companies have been lawfully bound to start labelling food products that contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO), when the regulations took effect in October 2011.

The DTI has AGAIN reopened the public comment period on amendments to the GM labelling legislation. We’d like to urge all of you to please write in in support of strong and meaningful labelling.

During this time the ACB has submitted various food products for testing for GM presence, engaged with food producers demanding the proper labelling of food products and engaged with government to implement and enforce the labelling regulations. At the same time the food industry, via the Consumer Goods Council SA and with the support from Africabio, a NGO committed to promoting the uptake and use of GMOs, has been furiously lobbying to have the labelling regulations dropped.

The initial argument by industry was that the labelling was ambiguous. In response, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published a set of amended regulations in October 2012 for comment, which clearly conveyed government’s intention that all foods containing 5% or more GM content must be labelled.

This has still not been promulgated due to the powerful industry lobbying with fallacious arguments that labelling will raise food prices and cause a “food scare” that will lead to food insecurity. They insist that it is only the producers of non-GM foods that should be obliged to label their food products as not containing GM. We’re sure you will agree that this approach is inconsistent with the provisions and spirit of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which requires labelling for the presence, not absence of GM. The next prize for industry is to insist that manufactured foods with GM content should not be labelled, only the raw materials, such as maize kernels or soya beans. In other words, none of the food products on the shelves containing GM ingredients would be labelled!!

In a desperate bid to appease the industry, the DTI held a stakeholder workshop on 25thJuly 2014 in Pretoria. In their opening remarks they thanked Africabio – who is spearheading the industry lobby – for their assistance and collaboration in identifying the stakeholders present. This bias was strenuously objected to by the ACB, which noted the distinct lack of stakeholders present from GMO concern groups. The DTI explained that their intention was to advertise the workshop to the public but they failed to do so because of logistical problems. This resulted in a process that was heavily dominated by the industry lobby, especially Africabio, whose sole purpose was to find a way to circumvent the good intentions of the CPA. Their arguments were based on insults about “the lunatic fringe” and false claims that a tiny minority funded by a “European lobby” was fuelling a demand for GM labelling. If their bully tactics work, South Africans will have no right to know that their staple food as well as most processed foods on our shelves are saturated with GM ingredients.

The DTI has AGAIN reopened the public comment period on amendments to the GM labelling legislation. We’d like to urge all of you to please write in in support of strong and meaningful labelling.

We have until the 15th August 2014 to send comments through to
As always, thank you for all your support and activism and we welcome all your feedback.
Kind Regards
Mariam and Zakiyya

The Consumer Protection Act 2008 can be downloaded at The relevant section on GM Labelling is on page 66, Section 24(6)
The Draft Amendments to the Regulations can be downloaded at
The ACB’s comments on the Draft Amendments to the Regulations can be downloaded at
Visit our Website

Join the conversation on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter!/LGMfoods

Please Take Action for to rescue the labelling of GM foods from Industry bullying: Email:…

— Label GM Foods (@LGMfoods) August 5, 2014

Sonia Mountford

Sonia Mountford lived as an expat in the Middle East for a number of years and enjoyed travelling and exposure to third and first world cultures. Her interest in food security began while visiting in Sri Lanka after floods and discovering the politics around Food Aid. As a co-founder of Grass Consumer Action and the only full time member, she spent four years researching the dysfunctional food system in South Africa, investigating, questioning and exposing misleading claims. Although her interests range from food politics to toxins in our food, including harmful ingredients in processed foods and Big Food influence; she soon came to realize that the most important part of the food journey begins on farms. For that reason she spends much of her time visiting farms, learning and talking about constraints and concerns in production methods with farmers. Passionate about nutritional food security she believes higher animal welfare farming practices are not only necessary for ethical reasons but also for human health. She is an ambassador for SOIL, BEES and healthy WATER. Mountford started EATegrity ( “Helping You Find Integrity in the Food Chain” in 2015. Her aim is create greater consumer awareness about the food chain and to encourage transparency in the South African food industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *