South Africa will label GMO's
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONSUMER RIGHTS RECOGNISED: GM FOODS WILL BE LABELLED IN SOUTH AFRICA
Wednesday 17 September 2008
Cape Town: History was made yesterday when the Department of Trade and Industry handed down a ruling for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.
The decision came after a clause to this effect, which had been removed from the draft Consumer Protection Bill last year, was reinstated.National Co-ordinator of SAFeAGE, a consumer GMO watchdog that has been lobbying for two years to have this clause reinstated said, "The GMO Act does not protect consumers, it is rather a permitting system that welcomes untested, unlabelled and irresponsible genetic modification to run rife in our country. Consumers will finally have the right to choose once this Bill is implemented".
Parliament's Trade and Industry committee also withdrew a clause from the original Bill that rendered GMOs exempt from liability for damage caused by them. "Why should food that has been spliced with virus, anti-biotic resistant and herbicide genes be exempt from liability,"questioned Treherne."These foods should be subject to more stringent labelling, not exemption."
The Department of Trade and Industry's labelling laws have not gone unopposed. Both the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health have opposed mandatory labelling saying it would send out a confusing signal to consumers. However, spokesperson for the Safe Food Coalition, Andrew Taynton said that "the Department of Trade and Industry should be congratulated for this bold move. Current GM labelling laws in South Africa are so flawed that they do not label any of the GM foods currently on the market."
Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) commented that "government has embarked upon the first step towards regulating agribusiness involved with GMOs. Not only have consumers been given a choice to reject GM foods, now, GM food can also be tracked from farm to fork in order to hold Monsanto and others liable when we discover that something has gone wrong."
Treherne was however concerned that the Department of Agriculture would still be responsible for determining the thresholds and technical requirements of these new regulations, saying, "We hope this does not undermine the excellent work done by Parliament and the Department of
Trade and Industry on the Consumer Protection Bill.
For more information contact:
Charmaine Treherne, National Coordinator, SAFeAGE