1. The Genetically Modified Organisms Act, 15 of 1997 (“the GMO Act”) paved the way for the growth of the GMO industry in South Africa, and has changed the agricultural industry significantly. Subsequent to this, it has become challenging to obtain ingredients from non-GMO sources. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to produce the same amount of products and goods as Premier does without using ingredients containing GMO crops.
2. The world population continues to grow at an alarming rate requiring more food to sustain it. At the same time, fewer crops are being planted and coupled with climate change, there is pressure on supply of basic foodstuffs, particularly grains. Staple foods such as grains are an affordable food for the mass market with approximately 20% of the total calorie in-take of the population coming from maize and wheat. As a result, certain crops such as maize and soya have GMO strains in order to make them hardier to environmental challenges.
3. In South Africa, maize and soya crops do contain GMO strains. It is nearly impossible to separate GMO from non-GMO at the source due to the mix of seeds being planted. However, products can be tested for GMO content once harvested.
4. The applicable regulations1 allow for a minimum of 5% of GMO content in the finished product without the need to label such on the packaging. In addition, the regulations stipulates that any good ingredients or components containing less than 1% of GMO may be labelled to state that it does not contain GMO. As a result, all maize products produced by Premier do contain labelling to this effect, while Premier’s bread products do not contain such labelling as they are within the minimum tolerances prescribed by law.
5. All Premier products made available for purchase and consumption by end-consumers are fully compliant with all applicable and relevant legislation. The applicable legislation and regulations require that where 5% or more of the good (defined as being “anything marketed for human consumption”, in other words, a final product) contains genetically modified ingredients or components, this must be noted on the packaging of the particular product2.
6. In this regard, Premier’s Blue Ribbon White Bread, for example, contains a 2% premix. Premix is a substance that is mixed or blended using two or more ingredients and is mixed early in the manufacturing and distribution stages of the final product. This premix in turn only contains 42% soya (the remainder is made up of other components). Accordingly, Premier’s Blue Ribbon White Bread contains a total of 0.84% soya, and thus less than 1% of each loaf of Blue Ribbon White Bread contains GMO ingredients or components. It should be noted that similar baking processes apply to all Premier’s final bread products and, accordingly, all Premier final bread products have a GMO content below 1%.
7. Maize and samp products contain more than 5% of GMOs and are labelled accordingly. Wheat only products, like Snowflake, do not contain any GMO ingredients or components. To date South Africa Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has not authorised the commercialization of genetically modified wheat. Premier accordingly complies with all applicable legislation and regulations as regards its packaging.
8. Premier at all times strives for excellence in the manufacturing of all of its products, and does so in full compliance with all applicable legislation and regulations.
9. For a visual overview of the business’ compliance with the GMO Act, click here to download an Infographic.