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October 16, 2012

South Africa to require labeling of GM foods

In the African countries where GM foods are a discussion topic at all, it is usually whether it is 'good' or 'bad' to allow their importation/use/cultivation. In South Africa, GM crops have been a fact of life for years.

South African anti-GM activists accept that the toothpaste cannot be put back in its tube. The African Centre for Biosafety has therefore been fighting a long battle for at least consumers to be informed which products have gene-modified ingredients, so that those who are so inclined can make an informed choice to avoid them.

The South African government has now published suggested changes to make it a requirement for any processed foods with more than 5% GM ingredients to state on the label, 'contains genetically modified ingredients or components.'

To require labeling or not to has been as globally controversial as almost everything else about GM foods. Proponents advocate labeling on the basis of consumers' right to know, while some warn that the enforcement of regulations is an issue because of the cost and complexity involved.  

In a country where GM-containing foods are already widely consumed, knowingly or unknowingly, it remains to be seen if labeling will have any effect on buyer behaviour.

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