The African Centre for Biosafety, (ACB), has published a report investigating the collusion between South Africa’s bread industry and genetically modified food producers. Almost all the breads tested by ACB was found to contain unacceptable high levels of genetically modified, (GM), soya ranging from 20.46% – 90.09%. Except for one brand, the labels did not reflect the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act in effect since 2011. The law requires that South African consumers be informed of GM content where that content exceeds 5%. The consumer protection act also mandates that food producers, importers and packagers are required by the Consumer Protection Act (2008) to label food containing GM ingredients accordingly.
The report provides the following summary and can be accessed here: http://www.acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/GM-Bread-201405.pdf
The wheat-to-bread value chain is highly consolidated and controlled primarily by four companies: Tiger Brands, Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods and Foodcorp. Three of these companies, Tiger Brands, Premier Foods and Pioneer Foods also dominate the market for maize meal.
This value chain feeds into a concentrated food retail market, primarily controlled by Shoprite/Checkers, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Spar.
In a country where more than 50% of people do not have regular access to food, Tiger Brands and Pioneer Foods made a profit of R2.441 billion in 2013 just from their baking divisions. The Competition Commission has previously found that Tiger Brands, Premier
Foods, Pioneer Foods and Foodcorp colluded to fix the price of bread.
South Africa’s leading bread brands contain high levels of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soya. These brands include those of Woolworths, Spar, Checkers and Pick n Pay white breads along with the Albany, Blue Ribbon and Sunbake bread brands, belonging to Tiger Brands, Premier Foods and Foodcorp respectively.
Bread is South Africa’s second most important staple food, after maize. The maize value chain is already entirely genetically modified, with its milling sector similarly controlled by Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods and Premier Foods. The maize value chain feeds into the same concentrated food retail sector.
Bread producers (Tiger Brands, Premier Foods and Foodcorp) and retailers (Pick n Pay, Checkers, Woolworths and Spar) are not labeling their bread as containing GM soya, as required by the Consumer Protection Act (2008) and are deceiving South African
All GM soya grown in South Africa is liberally sprayed with herbicides that contain glyphosate (the active ingredient) and other chemicals (adjuvants). ‘Roundup’, Monsanto’s flagship glyphosate-based herbicide, is the most popular brand in South Africa, though a multitude of other brands are available.
Glyphosate has been linked to increased risk of chronic kidney disease, birth defects in humans and animals and spontaneous abortions. Recent samples of urine and breast milk taken by the Moms across America organisation show an accumulation of glyphosate in breast milk. Research has found some of the adjuvants used with glyphosate to be even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Residues of glyphosate and its adjuvants can remain in food long after the harvest.
Both consolidation of the bread industry and the increasingly genetic modification of the country’s staple foods undermine food security in South Africa. Consolidation shuts out smaller players, including small scale farmers and millers, while genetically modified crops are cultivated in large-scale mono-cropping, commercialized farming systems, heavily reliant on high irrigation, pesticide and herbicide use. This type of farming has negative environmental consequences and is socially unjust.