|Sunday, 05 May 2013 09:55|
|The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released results of tests conducted on 7 baby formulas and cereals, by an independent and accredited GM testing laboratory. The results reveal that Purity baby cereals contain extremely high levels of GM content whereas Nestlé’s infant formulas and cereal indicate that Nestle appears to be going GM free. Aspen’s infant formulas also indicate GM avoidance. Shockingly, comparisons also reveal that Purity’s GM baby cereals cost 250% more than non-GM cereals, exploding the myth that GM free food is an expensive and impractical luxury.Would you like to sign a petition to demand labelling and identification of food containing GM ingredients? Click onhttp://www.acbio.org.za/activist/index.php?m=u&f=dsp&petitionID=2
PURITY’S BABY CEREALS
Purity’s Cream of Maize tested positive as containing 56.25% GM maize; and Purity’s Purity Baby First tested positive as containing 71.47% GM maize.
Neither of these baby foods were labeled as containing products derived from genetically modified maize. This is not the first time that Purity’s Cream of Maize cereal tested positive for GM. In 2008, consumer watchdog SAFeAGE revealed the product to contain more than 24% GM maize.
“Why has Purity not labeled its products? By failing to label, Purity has acted disingenuously and deprived parents of crucial information about their baby’s nutrition. Adult consumers in SA do not want to eat GM food, much less feed their babies with GM cereals, given that the safety of GM food is highly questionable,” said Zakkiya Ismail, ACB’s Labeling Campaign Co-ordinator.
Purity has a long history of producing and marketing jarred baby food in South Africa. Food giant, Tiger Brands owns Purity. Tiger Brands was fined R98.8 million (roughly $10 million) in 2007 by the Competition Commission for colluding with other bread producers in a bread price fixing scandal. Tiger Brand products are ubiquitous and account for around 15% of goods sold at every major retailer in the country. Its products include popular brands such as Ace Maize Meal, Albany Bread, All Gold Tomato Sauce, Black Cat Peanut Butter, and Koo bottled and canned food.
NESTLE’S INFANT FORMULAS AND CEREAL
Last year, the ACB tested Nestlé’s baby cereal Cerelac Honey, which contained 77.65% GM maize. This resulted in a huge public outcry. Now, the test results indicate a deliberate effort on the part of Nestle to avoid the use of GMOs in its baby products containing maize and soya products, as its formulas, Nan Pelargon and NAN AR Infant are both GM free. Nestlé’s Mixed Cereal, comprising of maize flour, contained extremely low levels of GM maize and GM soya that would not have triggered labeling. Curiously, however, soya is not listed as an ingredient on the packaging.
NESTLÉ’S DOUBLE STANDARDS
The test results contrast starkly with Nestlé’s pro-GM stance, and its donation of $1.2 million to support an anti-GM labeling initiative in California last year. On 3rd May 2013, Nestlé’ was reported as having dismissed calls by US consumer groups for it to refrain from using GM ingredients in its baby formulas in the US.1 “We call upon Nestlé’ to stop using double standards, and desist from using GM ingredients in all its food products, in all countries, as it does in European countries,” said Ismail.
HUGE PRICE DISPARITY
The ACB is shocked to learn that Purity’s GM-laden cereals are 250% more expensive than Nestlé’s baby cereal that contains only traces of GM contamination. “This belies the claim of the food and biotech industry that segregation of GM and non-GM grains along the value chain and the labeling of GM products will dramatically increase costs, which will inevitably be passed on to the consumer. It appears as if Nestlé has found a way to either absorb such costs, if indeed they do exist, or source non-GM maize economically,” said Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB.
ASPEN’S INFANT FORMULAS
Nestlé’ is not alone in its avoidance of GMOs. Aspen’s Infacare Infant was tested to be GM free, and its InfaCare Gold Soya 1 to contain very low traces of GM maize and soya, also indicating possible contamination along the value chain. Multi-national company Aspen is a supplier of branded and generic pharmaceuticals and infant nutritional products. It recently bought Nestlé’s interest in Pfizer to distribute a portfolio of infant formulas to several countries in Africa.
“These latest findings make a mockery of the ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ argument of the pro-GM machinery in their opposition to GM labeling. They can no longer peddle the myth that the provision of non-GM food is an onerous luxury we cannot afford,” said Mayet.
Zakiyya Ismail 083 273 7304
Status of GM food labeling and the right to know in South Africa
Nevertheless, several products derived from GMOs are being labeled:
MEDIA RLEASE issued bythe African Centre for Biosafety http://www.acbio.org.za
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