Fears are being voiced over two South African products on the shelves of Countdown and Woolworths after revelations that ProNutro cereal and Springbok maizemeal are made from genetically modified corn and soya.

Product importer Zebra Zoo agreed that the maizemeal came from a crop in South Africa where 81 per cent of the plants were genetically modified to be insect-resistant and 10 per cent to be herbicide-resistant. And 9 per cent of the plants had more than one gene changed.

The admission, which came in a letter to GE Free New Zealand president Claire Bleakley, did not include specific details about the crops used to make ProNutro, but company spokeswoman Vanessa Smith cited official figures which indicated that 85 per cent of the soya and 77.1 per cent of the maize planted in South Africa at the time were genetically modified. Nearly a third of the soya plants had more than one gene changed.

ProNutro is a staple in the homes of many Kiwi South Africans.


Bleakley said she had written to Progressive Enterprises, which owns Countdown and Woolworths, requesting that the products be removed from shelves. "These genetically modified genes can't be washed off or cooked away," she said. "The scary thing is none of this has been evaluated for human safety. Ironically, they haven't tested this on humans because such a trial is deemed unethical."

Progressive Enterprises said the products would not be taken off shelves as they met Food Standards Australia New Zealand guidelines.