The SA Consumer Protection Bill origionally included a clause regarding the labelling of food containing GMOs. This clause was removed and we need to put pressure on the decision makers to reinstate it again. Even if you ignore the debate about whether GMOs are safe or not, surely it is the right of every consumer to know what they are eating.
If you feel strongly about this, click the ‘read the rest of this entry’ link below to read a sample letter motivating for the reinstatement of the clause requiring labelling of foods containing GMOs. At the bottom of the letter is an email address and postal address so you can print the letter or paste it into an email and send it off.
CALL FOR REINSTATEMENT OF GMO LABELLING CLAUSE 29 (1)(a) MAY 2008
I/We call for the reinstatement of the mandatory labelling of GM foods clause.
We, as consumers, do not want to eat GMO at all. There is far too much independent (non industry-funded) scientific proof that these foods are harmful to people, animals, the environment and the economy. The only benefit we can see that these foods offer is to the shareholders of the companies who make them. There is mounting evidence around the world that farmers are being sued, displaced and even committing suicide through the debts incurred, people and animals are getting sick and suffering increased allergies etc., and that seeds are increasingly being owned by chemical companies resulting in a monopolization of our food supply.
South Africans do NOT want any of this to happen to us. In particular we do not want to be guinea pigs for what amounts to an experiment with GM foods. Furthermore we object to Industry and Government telling other countries that we, like the Americans, eat GMOs and we don’t have any problems with them. HOW DO WE KNOW that the problems we do have are not as a result of eating unlabelled GMO? It is irresponsible of our government not to label these foods. Labelling will also bring about liability and redress on the part of their creators NOT THE END USER as it is not stated in the GMO Act – and could potentially relieve the government of what could later be an enormous burden once these foods are proven to be unsafe as has happened in other countries.
We cannot exercise our democratic right to choose safe and healthy foods IF THEY ARE NOT LABELLED.
We are told from the previous Chair of the draft Consumer Protection Bill committee that a meeting was held wherein a decision was taken to remove the labelling clause due to the fact that it was pointed out that labelling of GMOs must come under the GMO Act in the Department of Agriculture (DoA) otherwise it would ‘cause confusion’. The protection of consumers cannot be left to the DoA, as the GMO Act (and its recent amendments) make it clear that consumer protection is not on the agenda of the DoA. Self-regulation of labeling by the biotechnology industry is also not an option, given the conflict between its profit motives and the concerns of consumers about GMOs as food. It is not the function of the DoA to protect consumers, it is their function to promote biotechnology as we can see with the enabling legislation and permitting system.
We remind you that DTI will not be giving effect to the stated purpose of the CPB if it removes the provisions for mandatory labeling of GMOs and that this will expose the final version of the Bill to a constitutional challenge. Accordingly, we repeat our call for the reinstatement of mandatory GMO labeling in the CPB.
We urgently call therefore for the reinstatement of the clause in 29 (1) of the Bill, consumers must be informed on the packaging of goods containing GMOs including the nature and extent of any genetically modified ingredients or components, etc.
Lastly, we bring to your attention a decision taken last year by the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) who ruled that Monsanto must retract an advertisement it had in the You and other popular magazines, claiming that GM Foods are safe. Failure on the part of Monsanto to prove safety and the subsequent removal of that clause attesting to the safety of GM foods, proves, beyond all doubt that the safety of these foods has NOT BEEN PROVEN, so the precautionary approach must be adopted and these foods MUST BE LABELLED.
Secretary of Parliament
Mr J Ramrock