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Consumer Savvy

01 March 2013

Routledge Modise

Unless labelled as "Produced using genetic modifi­cation" a good ingredient or component contains less than 1% GMO, a notice in terms of Section 22 may not state that it does not contain any GMO. However, such a notice may state that the level of GMO in the good, ingredient or component is less than 5%.

If it is not feasible or if it is scientifically impractical to test goods for the presence of GMO ingredients, a notice meeting the requirements of Section 22 must be applied to the goods or marketing material in a con­spicuous and easily legible manner and size stating that the goods "May contain geneti­cally modified ingredients".

GMO draft regulation

The draft regulation gazetted in October 2012 sets out intended amendments to GMO Regulation 293 and invited comments to the intended amendments. Briefly, the draft regulation amends GMO Regulation 293 to state that it applies to "all" goods that contain GMO ingredients or com­ponents. In addition, references to "genetical­ly modified organisms" have been replaced to refer to "genetically modified ingredients or components" and references to "good or in­gredient or component" have been replaced to refer to "good".

Of interest in respect of the marketing of GMO goods, references to notices meeting the requirements of Section 22 "applied to such good or marketing material, as the case may be" are replaced with the refe­rence to such notices which are "displayed on, or in association with the packaging of these goods". The Draft Regulation also extends the ap­plication of GMO Regulation 293 to "goods derived from"GMO.

The Draft Regulation appears to widen the scope of application of GMO Regulation 293 by clarifying that it applies to"all"goods containing GMO ingredients or compo­nents. This clarification has stemmed from arguments that the regulation did not apply to processed food.

The period for commentary on the draft regulation has now closed and the indus­try awaits the next step in the amendment process.

Conclusion
With a strict approach to consumer protection being upheld, it has become extremely important for suppliers to know and un­derstand consumer law. For a supplier, it is important to ensure that the goods sup­plied have clear and understandable trade descriptions in compliance with all relevant CPA regulations. As stated above, failed compliance could attract heavy sanctions for the supplier.

If you require more information on the Consumer Protection Act and specific advice on the application of its provisions to your business, please do not hesitate to contact Simone Monty on 011 775 6335 or simonem@rmlaw.co.za, and Tarryn Poppesquou on 011 523 6126 or tarrynp@rmlaw.co.za.

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