Rough riders and sweet oranges

The genetically-modified maize I wrote about last week has been approved for import into South Africa. Not much has changed, and you can still assume that, unless otherwise indicated, all products available for sale containing maize and soya will contain genetically-modified material.

In the US, there’s the phenomenon of ‘riders’, often unrelated clauses attached to another bill that comes up for discussion in the Senate or Congress.

A recent example was the so-called “Monsanto Rider. A single line was included amidst a 90-page bill, in essence requiring (not just allowing) illegally approved biotech crops to still be planted, even if ruled in court that they were illegally approved.

The US has extremely lax regulation and biotech companies get away barely any oversight, but provisions like these that aim to further weaken any regulation are incorporated in bills all the time.

That’s the way US democracy functions. Industry lobby groups have huge teams and pay millions to get industry-friendly regulation approved by their representatives, and when citizens rally and take great effort to reject one decision, they simply include another.

So the situation in the US is dire. How about here? In the US at least there exists the trappings of democracy, even if one subverted by corporate influence and lack of oversight, and at least an opportunity for citizens to have an impact. In South Africa, so much more is under the table.

A spokesperson for the Agriculture Department said that a safety review process was followed, but refused to say whether this review was independent or simply based on the data submitted by Dow Chemicals to US regulators.

Industry must find South Africa a lot cheaper to influence.

Thanks to everyone who added their name to the petition last week. What can you now? Continue to let people know about what’s in their food, the impact it has on our systems, and to support organic farmers.

Citrus Season
Citrus season is in full swing again. Some varieties have come and gone, but for our newer customers, who’ve never seen kumquats, Sevilles and cara-cara oranges, here’s a quick explanation.

Kumquats are a tiny orange citrus, very tart, with the skin being sweeter than the inside. Some people have been known to eat only the skin! They can also be sliced and added to salads.

Cara-cara oranges are a beautiful rose-tinted orange, relatively sweet and low in acid.

And Seville oranges are extremely bitter, usually used for marmalades.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.