Just as consumers were welcoming the news that Tiger Brands has decided to ditch genetically modified (GM) ingredients in its baby food, GMO testing carried out by an independent laboratory on behalf of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has revealed shocking results in respect of five of Tiger Brands’ most popular maize based products.
The test results on the five products were as follows:
- Ace super maize meal 78% GM maize content.
- Ace maize rice 70% GM maize content.
- Ace instant porridge 68% GM maize content.
- Lion samp and beans 48% GM maize content of the samp
- Jungle B’fast energy cereal 41% GM maize content.
The GM maize used in these products will almost certainly contain residues of toxic glyphosate based herbicides, since the vast majority of GM maize cultivated in South Africa has been genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup. There is now a substantial body of scientifically peer-reviewed data that links glyphosate exposure with severe human health impacts.
Tiger Brands’ Ace brands, consumed as a staple on a daily basis by the vast majority of South Africans, contained the highest levels of GM presence. Community groups are up in arms about these revelations. According to Zukiswa Nomwa of the Coalition for Ecological Justice (CEJ), based in Khayelitsha, “people don’t want to eat GM maize. Moreover, most people can’t afford Purity. What they feed their infants as a first food is maize. It doesn’t make sense for Tiger Brands to remove GMOs from Purity baby foods but not from their other maize-based products”.
According to ACB’s Consumer Awareness Campaigner, Zakiyya Ismail, “All of these products are misleadingly labelled as ‘may contain GM ingredients’, a label which is only allowed to be used when it is not feasible or scientifically possible to test. Consumers have the right to accurate and truthful labelling as required by the Consumer Protection Act.”
Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet said that “It is a travesty that we are the only nation on Earth where our staple food, namely maize, is genetically modified. We demand GM-free, safe and nutritious food for all South Africans. Our government must commit to establishing GM-free zones in South Africa as a matter of urgency. It must also support food sovereignty initiatives in South Africa to ensure local control over food production, especially maize. We reject out of hand the current situation of corporate control of our food systems.”
Notes for Editors
Tiger Brands commitment to remove GMOs from Purity baby foods can be viewed here.
For more information on the health risks of exposure to glyphosate see the following ACB publications here.
‘How much glyphosate is on your dinner plate? SA’s food safety compromised by lack of testing.’
‘Setting the record straight on the Seralini GM maize rat study: Why the SA government must urgently intervene’
A recent study commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe has revealed that people in 18 countries across Europe have been found to have traces of glyphosate in their urine. The implications for South Africa of this are potentially very serious, as Europe does not cultivate any glyphosate tolerant GM crops, while the vast majority of its GM maize and soybean imports are used for animal feed and not eaten directly by people, as is the case here in SA.
- Ms. Mariam Mayet, Director, African Centre for Biosafety: 083 269 4309
- Ms. Zakiyya Ismail, Labelling Campaigner, African Centre for Biosafety: 083 273 7304