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Full Disclosure on GMO Products

01 April 2013

Routledge Modise

Unless a good, ingredient or component contains less than 1% GMO, a notice in terms of s22 may not state that the good, ingredient or component does not contain any GMO. However, such a notice may state that that the level of GMO in the good, ingredient or component is less than 5%.

If it is not feasible or it is scientifically impractical to test goods for the presence of GMO/ingredients, a notice meeting the requirements of s22 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 s22 "applied to such good or marketing material, as the case may be" is replaced with the reference to notices which are "displayed on, or in association with the packaging of those 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 contain¬ing GMO ingredients or components. This clarification has stemmed from arguments that the regulation did not apply to processed food.

The period for commentary to the Draft Regulation has now closed and the industry awaits the next step in the amendment process.

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.  Failure to comply could attract heavy sanctions for the supplier.

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