In a new report issued by the African Center for Biosafety (ACB), evidence of industry-wide contamination of bread with Monsanto’s genetically modified soy is described. With more than 2.8 billion loaves of bread consumed every year, that means that millions are giving money to the pesticide and herbicide cartels by paying numerous companies who unabashedly use GM in their food products.
The report, titled appropriately, ‘GM Contamination, Cartels and Collusion in South Africa’s Bread Industry,’ makes no mistake in referencing the companies that produce these poison foods, namely GM bread, as cartels. Corporations like Tiger Brands Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods, and Foodcorp have bowed to the Monsanto monster and make billions off of GM bread every year.
These companies control the wheat-to-bread chain, and since roughly a quarter of all South Africans live below the poverty line, they often rely on these companies for food. Bread is the second most important staple food in Africa, just following maize. The GM contamination hits poor populations the hardest.
Executive Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet states:
“A small number of unscrupulous cartels control and benefit from the value chains of our staple foods, maize and bread. They have been repeatedly sanctioned for anti-competitive behaviour, have been complicit in saturating our staple food with risky GM ingredients and its associated pesticides and are behind a campaign to undermine proper labeling of GM food and the consumer’s right to know.”
When testing for GM in soya flour breads in popular brands, the following alarmingly high levels of GM were found in popular food products:
|White bread brand||GM content in soya flour||Produced by||Labelled as|
|Checkers white bread||91.09%||Shoprite Holdings||No GM label. (Not labelled )|
|Woolworths white bread||85.62%||Woolworths||May be Genetically Modified|
|Spar white bread||72.69%||Spar||No GM label. (Not labelled )|
|Blue Ribbon white bread||64.9%||Premier Foods||Not labeled|
|Pick n Pay white bread||42.82%||Pick n Pay||Not labelled|
|Albany superior white bread||23.23%||Tiger Brands||Not labeled|
|Sunbake white bread||20.46%||Foodcorp||Not labeled|
|Sasko white bread||so low as to be unquantifiable||Pioneer Foods||Produced using GMO|
While the Consumer Food Protection Act was supposed to protect individuals from this exact problem by requiring labeling of anything which contains more than 5% or more of genetically modified ingredients, only one brand, Sasko from Pioneer Foods, displays a GM food label at all. Due to the law, it is also the only product which didn’t require labeling by law since its ingredients were found to be below the 5% level.
According to ACB Consumer Campaigner, Ms Zakiyya Ismail:
“The current labels are either misleading, confusing or completely absent, leaving consumers utterly in the dark. Astonishingly while these companies are at pains to convince the public that they are in favour of protecting the rights of consumers, these are the very companies lobbying under the aegis of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) to revise and weaken GM labeling regulations, successfully stalling the implementation of GM labeling since October 2011.”
The chart above shows that despite a 5% labeling law in Africa, almost 100% of Africa’s soya production is genetically modified. It seems Pioneer is the only company trying to go GMO-free, with a sharp drop in Pioneer’s White Star maize from tests which showed levels over 72% in October of last year and less than half of that when tested again several months later. Is it possible that only one company is trying to break from the drug cartel that comprises Africa’s genetically modified food production?
Another problem is that Africa’s leading retailers who sell the contaminated bread as well as other GM products made public commitments to honor the Consumer Protection Act, including Shoprite/Checkers, Pick n’ Pay, and Woolworths.
Woolworth’s in particular, has said it will:
“. . . eliminate genetically modified ingredients wherever possible and work hand-in-hand with our suppliers to do so.”
That promise seems to have been completely ignored considering the company sells bread from the top four companies controlling the GM bread-food-chain – Tiger Brands, Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods, and Foodcorp. These four control 70% of the entire market. They collude to fix prices, and keep GM bread cheap so that the poor continue to purchase the bread supplied by stores eager to make a fast buck.
Pioneer Foods and Tiger Brands made a profit of R2.441 billion (about $41,418,720,000) last year, just from their baking division, which supplies stores like Woolworth’s with GM bread.
These facts prove that there is no justice in the food system. Monsanto, and pesticide and herbicide pushers around the globe are propping up GM food at any cost. They need to be stopped, and labeling is no longer sufficient considering the fact that biotech corporations seem to infiltrate every government in the world. Until GM is banned globally for good, we cannot rest on this issue.