on October 9, 2012, the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry extended the comment period for the Consumer Protection Act, as it related to products containing genetically engineered ingredients.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number:
South Africa - Republic of
Biotech Labeling Requirement in Consumer Protection Act
Biotechnology - GE Plants and Animals
on October 9, 2012, the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry extended the comment period
for the Consumer Protection Act, as it related to products containing genetically engineered ingredients.
The extended comment period is a response to the outpouring of comments from the business
community and trade partners, that the Act, as written, created uncertainty in what products required
labeling and how the Act would be implemented.
In response to the outpouring of comments from the business community and trade partners, the
Minister of Trade and Industry, on October 9, 2012, proposed amendments to the regulations of the
Consumer Protection Act, in particular the product labeling and trade descriptions of genetically
engineered (GE) ingredients in products. The Minister proposed changing the wording “genetically
modified organisms” in the regulation to “genetically modified ingredients or components”. The
Minister gave 30 days for comments from the public on the propose changes.
South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act (68/2008) came into law on April 1, 2011, after a significant
delay, as the legislation generated a wave of comments from the private sector and trade partners over
many provisions and uncertainty over how the Act would be implemented and enforced. In terms of
biotech events, the act states that all food containing GE ingredients needs to be labeled as such.
These GE labeling regulations push down many new challenges to businesses in South Africa and in
May 2012, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) met with the Commissioner of the Consumer
Protection Act to discuss these challenges. BUSA tabled the following concerns regarding GM labeling
to the Commissioner:
The inclusion of GE labeling in the Consumer Protection Act is not necessary as it is already
covered by regulations No. R25 of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act, Act No. 54
of 1972, administrated by the Department of Health;
To adhere to the current regulations regarding GE labeling will increase the cost of food and
impact negatively on the consumer and household food security;
The current regulations referred to “genetically modified organisms” as defined in Section 1 of
the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, Act No. 15 of 1997. The current commercially
approved GMO’s in terms of the latter are corn, soybeans and cotton. Inevitably, downstream
products are not covered and therefore the existing regulations might not be applicable;
There are currently only a few laboratories in the country and these would be unable to absorb
the pressure of testing every batch from the farm gate and throughout the value chain.