Tell us what we’re eating

A survey conducted by the research company, Synovate, found that 82% of respondents want food to be labeled if it contained genetically modified ingredients

Consumers are growing impatient with government efforts to ensure that we choose between eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or not.

It is a basic consumer right that we are given the right to choose what we buy based on our preference, health and other requirements. To do this, there needs to be proper management and monitoring of the food production process, and proper labeling of the products when they arrive in our shops.

This is not the case with foods containing GMOs. We simply do not know what products contain GMOs and what doesn’t. As much as 80% of our processed foods- including crisps, bread and chocolate- contain maize or soya, which is usually genetically modified. An NGO called Safe Age (South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering), run by volunteers, has taken up the campaign to ensure that all genetically engineered food is labeled- so that you can choose whether or not you want to eat it.

“There are strong indications of possible dangers from GE foods to our health,” says the organization. “We simply don’t know, as no human testing has occurred. Many doctors and scientists are worried that GE foods may damage our immune systems, create new toxins and allergens or increase resistance to antibiotics. The long term effects are extremely unpredictable.”

“We are lobbying government to adopt the precautionary principle at the very least, and at best, seek alternate, more sustainable methods of food production and farming.”

There are various resources on the Safe Age website ( that consumers can use to learn more about the subject and to join the movement in your area.

As well as lobbying for labeling, Safe Age is helping educate consumers about genetically engineered food. One important tool in this education campaign is the DVD/video documentary ‘The future of food’. It offers an in depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decades.

From the prairies of Canada to the fields of Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push for globalization, are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed about the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply.

The film also explores alternatives to large scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as a real solution to the farm crisis today.

If you have a group of people who want to watch the film, contact Safe Age and they will come and show it. Or you can buy your own copy for R150. For more information call the Safe Age office in Cape Town at 021 477 84 45

Used with permission from National Consumer Forum – Consumer Fair (May/June 2007)