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If there is no labelling, who is to protect us from GMO products?

My co-workers peep in the office with a worried look, “Umeamka vizuri?” And then duck out. The realization that a few people are trying to control the world’s food chain in the name of “good business”, for temporary temporal profit at the expense of everything else including their own children’s future has been like putting needles in my stomach.

I’ve never had an ulcer before, but friends and my father have described the affliction: a dull unpleasant pain never really going away. A wound gnawing like a little rat in my stomach. That’s what was happening. Relieved by food for only a short time.

I could feel the wound becoming more open and raw, the more I learned about the situation occurring in front of us… sometimes we are not even aware when the facts are staring us in the face, and then bam, you have to suffer the truth.

The multi-national corporations are lulling us into acceptance of their control over the food supply (from seed to supermarket product) and the stuff they are selling as food is often dangerous. I was panic’ing. The whole situation is made worse because of lack of labeling.

In 2011 Codex Alimentarius (the international food safety body) recognized the right of countries to label genetically modified foods, but it is still not being routinely adhered to. Corporations fight to hide the fact from their customers, that their products are genetically modified. Some countries, such as European nations require labeling and seem to enforce it.

Other countries do not yet require labeling, even when 90% of the people want it; countries avoiding mandatory labeling are mostly those with heavy corporate influence to export large quantities of GMOs, such as the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

Tanzania has a thoughtful, good and strong policy on labelling embedded in The Environmental Management (Biosafety) Regulations, 2009 coming out of the Vice President’s Office. They are part of the Environmental Management Act 2004 which is available at www.parliament.go.tz under Acts.

The (Biosafety) Regulations state that permission needs to be granted by the Biosafety Focal Point before GMO products can be placed on the market.

Thus under the section called Approval of Activity: “19. There shall be no import, deliberate release, contained use, or placing on the market of the GMOs or products thereof without the prior written approval of the National Biosafety Focal Point and permit issued by the  Minister responsible for environment.

20.-(1) Any person who intends to import, export, transport, release, use in contained condition, confined condition or place on the market the GMOs or products thereof shall submit an application in writing to the National Biosafety Focal Point approval.”

This country needs to have the ability to test incoming products for GMOs. According to the (Biosafety) Regulations, “The cost of undertaking any review of genetically modified organism or product thereof imported from outside  Tanzania shall be paid by the importer”.

Since the implementation of these admirable regulations is still a bit up in the air, the first act that has to be done is urgently to clean up the diet. Since their products are not adequately labeled, I had to kick out all products from United States and Canada with corn or soy in them.

Also from South Africa, since virtually all maize meal and soy products from there are heavily contaminated according to the GMO Testing Facility at the University of the Free State (Viljoen, Dajee, Botha, 2006). I love using baking chocolate.

If you put a whole wheat chapatti in the frying pan, heat it on one side, then turn it over, shave baking chocolate onto it and perhaps add peanut butter, then roll it up, and heat a few more minutes, it is a delicious treat.

I went to the supermarket to buy some more baker’s chocolate. One of  the ingredients is soy lecithin. I went to the web and typed <is soy lecithin GMO> and pushed the search button. With what comes up you have to believe it is. Wow.

That cuts out many more things – almost all imported baked goods and sweets. Most corporate food from North America and South Africa is at high risk for being contaminated, with GMO products. You need to read the labels and check if corn or soy (including canola) products are included. If they are don’t eat it. 

After having had too many drinks in ...

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Author: ANNE OUTWATER

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