Conservation Biology

Thursday, August 31, 2006


If you think you have never eaten GM food, you are probably in for a surprise. While searching for articles on GMO’s I came across a recent South African article. According to Viljoen et al. (2006) South Africa is currently the only country in Africa commercially growing GM crops. We have no legislation on labelling GM products in our country, however many product do carry labels like “GMO free”, “non GMO” or “may be genetically modified” on local and foreign products.

What did they find? From the 58 randomly sampled maize and soy products, 44 tested positive for traces of GMO’s. Of the 20 products that did carry GM related labels, 14 tested positive. If you are a vegetarian and make use of soya products, chances are more than great that they are genetically modified… 77% of labelled soya products tested positive. If you are concerned about GMO products and want to learn more, I can send you the article via e-mail. You’ll be surprised how many brands you’ll recognize!


Viljoen CD, Dajee BK and Botha GM. 2006. Detection of GMO in food products in South Africa: Implications of GMO labelling. African Journal of Biotechnology 5(2):73-82.

Karen Marais
BCB Hons NISL student
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17




  • Thanks for the article details - I have downloaded it and intend to read it and pass it on to my family. While we were sure that we were eating GM, the confirmation is useful and so is the option of avoiding some of the GM stuff. The precautionary principle suggests caution until there is more information.

    Labelling is important because it allows the consumer to decide individually whether or not to eat GM or other food additives, etc.

    By Blogger Gwen, at August 31, 2006 10:06 AM  

  • I'll certainly avoid some products now!

    By Blogger Karen Marais, at August 31, 2006 1:44 PM  

  • Hi Karen

    I would like your article emailed to me. Not to label is too me a socially irresponsible action. Other products carry government warnings, and it really is too short a period to known the long-term potential harm of GMOs to us and our environment (I share your increased alarm on this aspect). I will not knowingly buy GMO products, so I am afraid Soya is off my shopping list. I also know that my milk is likely to be a product of GMO and Monsanto research, but do I have a choice? I have not seen BST-free milk on the supermarket shelves.

    By Blogger Rich Knight, at August 31, 2006 8:55 PM  

  • The main crops on the south african market that are GM are maize, cotton and soya. Other such as potato adn grapes are on trial. Milk has recombinat growth hormone (rBGH, a GM product fed to cows to increase milk prodcution) and only Woolworths have rBGH- free milk.

    We need more consumer awareness because the Biosafety assesments adn political decisions are heavily influenced by the Agrochemical companies that markert these foof crops (eg. Monsanto, Syngenta)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 07, 2006 1:17 PM  

  • GM food are helping while they are also damaging. for example now we can get apples throughout the year while we know that apples only grow in winter but now we can even get then in summer. Since the we are increasing in number the non-GM food won't be enough for everyone to eat so most of the people will starve because the non-GM food grow according to seasons. GM food are costing us double firstly we pay when we modify the food and when we have grown a resistant to other bacteria we also pay to find cure. The more GM food we have the more we are going to spend. For example the cattle are given antibiotics so that they do not die or reduce the milk production, whilst us people we take those antibiotics indirectly.

    By Blogger Lethabo, at February 21, 2007 2:32 PM  

  • An interesting viewpoint...

    I'm a bit confused by this though: GM food are costing us double firstly we pay when we modify the food and when we have grown a resistant to other bacteria we also pay to find cure.

    Do you mean that GM food contains bacteria to which we might become resistant, or that might become resistnat to us? Or are you saying that GM food prevents us developing resistance to bacteria, and we therefore become more reliant on it?

    By Blogger NcK, at February 21, 2007 2:52 PM  

  • GM food are causing us to be resistance to certain antibiotics so microbiologist have to find other antibiotics which are stronger than the first ones, by doing this money is spent.

    By Blogger Lethabo, at February 21, 2007 3:13 PM  

  • Hi Karen

    Genetically modified (GM) food is good for both the environment and in Less Developed Countries (LDCs), but products need to be labelled whether they are GM food or not so that people can be able to make their choice. This is because less chemicals are used in the fight against different types of pests and diseases which is a huge benefit to the environment. The introduction of insects resistance seeds in LDCs which are seen as more vulnurable to the consequences of climate change such as drought and flood is a major boost economically. As long as there's no major threat to the life of both people and native plants by GM food, there's no problem in the use of GM food.

    By Blogger peter, at February 21, 2007 3:18 PM  

  • But Peter the GM food are danger to the people if you look now we are more vulnerable to diseases unlike those people who were eating non-Gm food stuff as far as i know most of the food at Woolworth are non-GM food

    By Blogger Lethabo, at February 21, 2007 3:25 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Dianah Nangammbi, at February 21, 2007 4:03 PM  

  • Thank you a lot for posting this article. I have done a literature search about Genetically Modified (GM) food and what I found is that many articles are focusing mainly on the advantages of GM food. Publications of GM food toxicity are very scarce.
    Genetically Modified (GM) foods have the potential to solve problems like hunger and malnutrition. They also protect and preserve the environment by reducing reliance upon chemicals and herbicides.
    Some other continents like Europe have more food whereas Africa does not have much. What is happening in South Africa is that Farmers are only allowed to buy GM seeds if the seeds provide better products. The GM products are labelled to differentiate them from non GM foods.
    This is also not reliable since there are lots of people who cannot read not only English but any written language at all and nothing is done to alert those people about the GM foods. What they are doing is to consume the products without knowledge and even if they have allergy due to the GM food they won't realise the cause. I would recommend that awareness is raised to the community so they know about the GM foods and their side effects and how to differentiate them from organics. Not all the people can be allergertic to GM so on the other hand GM food is important as we don't have lot of food in Africa. It will be best for the consumers to buy GM food at their own risk which will also help them to know what to expect after consuming them.

    By Blogger Dianah Nangammbi, at February 21, 2007 4:09 PM  

  • Help generate an essay topic. In developing countries, genetically modified foods are necessary to save their impoverished populations from starving. I have never been to Africa but I have read and heard that South Africa is by far much better economically than most African countries. Plasmid DNA Isolation Lab Report

    By Blogger Curtis Albert, at June 29, 2016 6:23 PM  

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