The African Center for Biosafety (ACB), a South African consumer watchdog organization sent two purity products to an independent GMO testing laboratory to test for the presence of ingredients derived from GMOs. The products are manufactured by Tiger Brands and the results reflected that Purity Baby’s First contained 56.25% GM maize while Purity Cream of Maize contained 71.47% GM maize.
The product label did not reveal the presence of containing GM as required by law. A conumer petition containing 1000 signatures demading GM free products or at least mandatory labelling was sent to Tiger Brands demanding. One signatory said, “people need to be in charge of what they eat – NOT the biotech companies. ALL food containing any GM product MUST be labelled”.
ACB director, Mariam Mayet, said that “Tiger Brands did not even acknowledge consumers’ concerns or preferences, or respond to their demands for labelling. Instead, Tiger Brands was very condescending, implying that consumers are ignorant and their concerns are baseless and referred consumers to government GMO regulators. The ACB is well aware how GMOs are regulated in this country; we have submitted detailed scientific comments in respect of over 50 GMO applications over the last 9 years to GMO regulators.”
Two other food companies who were petitioned by consumers have responded positively to South African consumer concerns over GMOs. Nestle has decided to take into consideration the needs and preferences of local consumers and will not use GM content in their baby food products. FutureLife has pledged to go GM-free. Many of the petitioners sent messages to Tiger Brands along with their signatures and contact details. One concerned consumer stated that, “for more than a decade the South African government has been force-feeding the nation with untested toxic food”. Another said that “parents have the right to choose what they feed their children; not labelling GM content is unacceptable.” Many signatories stated that they were boycotting Tiger Brands products and encouraging others to do so until they went GM-free. “Consumers detest producers that are indifferent to their wants and they will use their power and vote with their wallets when it comes to Tiger Brands products”, said Zakiyya Ismail, ACB’s Consumer Awareness Campaigner.
The ACB has taken up the task of ensuring that consumer are aware of their rights and that they can be protected.