GENET archive


3-Food: Ghana stops importation of GM foods

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Ghana stops importation of GM Foods
SOURCE: Ghanaian chronicle, by Joseph Coomson
DATE:   28 Jul 2005

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Ghana stops importation of GM Foods

Ghana has taken a strong stance against the importation and cultivation
of Genetically Modified (GM) foods in Ghana.

The Food and Agriculture minister, Mr. Ernest Debrah said the country
would reject, without hesitation, the importation of any Genetically
Modified (GM) foods, crops and materials into the country although it
might solve the famine problems being experienced, especially in the
Northern part.

This implies that the government of Ghana has resolved to oppose anything
to do with GM foods. Mr. Debrah said this last Friday in Accra.

GM technology in agriculture first appeared in the mid 1990s in the
United States of America (USA), which is still the world's largest grower
of GM crops.

A decade later, while member states of the European Union (EU) proceed
cautiously on allowing commercial plantings of GM crops, increasing
numbers of developing countries are joining the US in allowing the
commercial planting of GM crops.

In 2004, 81 million hectares of land were under legal cultivation of GM
crops in 17 countries. This is around 1.6 % of the total agriculture land
in the world and the area is growing at a rate of 20 % every year. The
year also saw 8 million farmers legally growing GM crops, up from 7
million in 2003.

The actual number of farms growing GM crops and the amount of land given
over to GM crops are both likely to be much higher than the official
figure, as illegal planting is widespread, particularly in Argentina,
Brazil, India and Mexico as well as some portions of Africa.

The majority of the crops grown on commercial scale has been developed by
private companies and either crop would be used in animal feed or GM cotton.

So far, private companies have shown little interest in developing GM
crops unless they have the potential to be bought and sold on a mass
scale. Because of this, only four varieties of GM crops, soyabean, maize,
cotton, and canola occupy 99% of commercial plantings, and are worth more
than $40 million each year. Majority of the crops are modified to resist
viruses and insects as well as tolerate chemical weed-killers.

By contrast, scientists and governments in developing countries are more
interested in research and commercialization of GM food crops for human
consumption and help ensure food security. Varieties of wheat, rice,
sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, cassava and many other fruits and
vegetables are being developed in laboratories and test plots across the
developing world. The traits being tried out are largely insect and virus

In developing countries, public institutions such as the Ghana Atomic
Commission in Ghana, fund much of the researches into GM crops.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Workshop on organisms opens
SOURCE: Ghana News Agency
DATE:   28 Jul 2005

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Workshop on organisms opens

Accra, July 28, GNA - A workshop on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
on Thursday opened in Accra to discuss and debate the benefits and risks
in applying the GMOs in various key sectors of Ghana's economy.

Genetically Modified Organisms are genetic engineering tools for
producing new varieties and new products in agriculture, health and industry.

The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the
Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is hosting the
workshop being attended by stakeholders who would exchange ideas and
provide inputs to policy formulation on the application of GMOs in Ghana.

Participants would also address issues of Ghana's effort to take full
advantage of genetic engineering, issues of risk management, capacity
building and investment.

Professor Emmanuel Owusu Bennoah, Director General, CSIR, said despite
the risks involved with any scientific technology, Ghana could take
advantage of the GMOs in her agriculture productions to enable her to
become food sufficient.

"Since we are in the era of science and technology, Ghana should take
part in the Green Revolution or stand the risk of being left behind",
Prof Bennoah indicated.

In a speech read for Ms Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and
Science, she said discussing genetic engineering and its products was
welcoming because it had generated much controversy and yet had enormous
potential to address Ghana's national economic challenges. Ms Churcher
said food production and distribution, which had become the biggest
challenge facing developing countries like Ghana, could, therefore, be
addressed with the adoption of genetic engineering to ensure food security.

She urged the participants to come out with strategies that would
consider the farmers in the villages, the micro and small-scale
industrialists, the traders in the markets and ordinary citizens in
harnessing biotechnology for national development. Dr Joseph Gogo,
Director of STEPRI, said several follow-up actions some of which involved
training programmes to build capacity of stakeholders would be organised
to enable Ghanaians to make informed choices over the application of GMOs.


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