InformAfrica – The African Center for Biosafety (ACB) last month October, released test results on the most extensively consumed maize brands in South Africa. The results were shocking as the entire maize supply in SA is utterly saturated with genetically modified GM maize.
“The majority of South Africans are not only eating GM maize without their knowledge and consent but have no choice or alternative whatsoever even if the products were correctly labelled. This is totally undemocratic and unacceptable. It smacks of outright food fascism” said Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Center for Biosafety.
According to the ACB report, South Africa is the only country in the world to permit the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) seed for the production of a staple food-maize. 86% of the 2012/13 maize crop was planted to GM seed on 2.7 million ha. 81% of the white maize seed sold was GM and belonging to Monsanto. GM white maize is used principally as milled maize meal for human consumption and eaten by several million South Africans as a staple food, at least once a day.
Three major food producers Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods and Premier Foods control the milling of 60% of the nation’s white maize crop. Milled maize products, Ace, White Star and Iwisa Super Maize Meal belonging to Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, and Premier, respectively, constitute over 73% of the maize meal market respectively.
The test results are as follows:
- Premier’s Iwisa: 81.2% GM content (labelled as ‘contains genetically modified organisms”) October 2013;
- Pioneer’s White Star Super Maize meal: 72.04% GM maize content (labelled as “produced using genetic modification”) October 2013;
- Premier’s course braai pap: 55.22% GM maize content (labelled as “may contain genetically modified organisms”) October 2013;
- Premier’s Nyala Super Maize Meal: 87.44% GM maize content (labelled as “contains genetically modified organisms”) March 2013;
- Woolworth’s Super Maize meal: 79.78% GM maize content (labelled as “may be genetically modified”) March 2013.
The ACB has during June 2013 also subjected several Tiger Brands’ ‘ACE’ milled maize products for testing and these were unlabelled and showed extremely high GM content:
- ACE Super maize meal: 78% GM maize content
- ACE Maize Rice: 70% GM maize content
- ACE Instant Porridge: 68% GM maize content
Pioneer’s ‘White Star’ super maize meal corners 25.3% of the market, Tiger Brand’s ‘Ace’ super maize meal 22.5%, Premier Foods flagship brand ‘Iwisa’ 13.3%, and when combined with sales of its other brands ‘Impala’ maize meal and ‘Nyala’ maize, Premier lays claim to a hefty 25.5% of the market.
An Open Letter was sent by the ACB to the National Chamber of Milling in July 2013, as the representative body for the milling industry in South Africa, calling upon it to ensure the establishment of GM free value chains has been ignored. Instead, the National Chamber of Milling has entered into a strategic partnership with Africabio, the lobby group dedicated to the promotion of GMOs in Africa.
Regulations for the labelling of GM food are currently still not enforced. The Department of Trade and Industry has been dragging its heels to provide consumers with the right to choose. “However, labelling laws will not assist consumers of maize meal as they have absolutely no choice but to be forced fed with risky GM maize.
Animal feeding studies have shown genetically modified BT maize causes liver and kidney damage in rats, mice and sheep, and severe stomach inflammation in pigs. Further, approximately 64% of the GM maize grown in South Africa is tolerant to glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide associated with a plethora of health risks to human, animal and environmental health.
Download The Full Report: Food Fascism in South Africa: Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premiere Force Feeding The Nation Risky GM Maize
This Africa information is filed under: Africa Report
Credit: The African Centre for Biosafety