After a decade-long battle to have genetically modified (GM) food labelled, consumer watchdogs believe misleading clauses in the new Consumer Protection Act could instead “hoodwink” and “confuse” the public and protect “big business”. Both the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and SA Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (SAFeAge) have “cautiously welcomed” the mandatory labelling regime for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the act’s final regulations, which were released by the Department of Trade and Industry last week, but say these are “fraught with legal uncertainties and ambiguities”.
Mariam Mayet of the ACB said consumers could be faced with up to five labels on GM foods “owing to attempts by the government to appease agribusiness”. From October 1, when the act becomes law, food producers, importers and packagers will be required to choose one of three mandatory labels for GM foods and marketing materials.
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