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2-Plants: Ghana strongly favours GM crops

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Ghana strongly favours GM Crops
SOURCE: Ghana News Agency
DATE:   18 Aug 2005

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Ghana strongly favours GM Crops

Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture,
on Thursday said Ghana had not taken any strong stand against the
importation and cultivation of Genetically Modified Crops, but was rather
strongly in favour of it.

He said with he National Bio-Safety Framework and its other nine
accompanying instruments, which had just been launched, "we have now met
the accessions of the Cartagena Protocol, which was signed in May 2003
affirming our position for the safe use, handling and transportation of
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that might find their way to Ghana."

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the nation's position on
Genetically Modified Crops, the Minister said the Ministry was working
vigorously on the passage of the bio-safety bill to show the country's
preparedness and commitment to ensure the safe use, handling and transfer
of GMOs in Ghana.

He stressed that Ghana's position on the issue of GMOs was strictly based
on the precautionary principle and that every effort would be made to
ensure the safety in the use of GMOs.

The Categena Protocol states: "Parties shall ensure that the development,
handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified
organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces the risks
to biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health."

Mr Debrah said all Genetically Modified Crops imported or cultivated
locally would pass through vigorous inspections to conform to the
country's regulations and standards to ensure their safety for both
living organisms and the environment. He said Ghana and its neighbours
continued to exchange planting materials and it was, therefore, prudent
for the country to put in place all the necessary precautions and
mechanisms to formally standardise the usage of GMOs, hence, the
framework and the pending bill. Ghana, the first in Africa and the 10th
in the world to accomplish the task of developing a National Bio-safety
Framework under the United Nations Environment Programme and the Global
Environment Facility (GEF) had proved its ability to ensure sustained use
of modern biotechnology products and processes, the Agriculture Minister said.

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

TITLE:  Ghana drafts GM safety legislation
SOURCE: SciDev.Net, UK, by Wagdy Sawahel
DATE:   17 Aug 2005

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Ghana drafts GM safety legislation

Ghana's Ministry of the Environment and Science issued draft biosafety
legislation yesterday (16 August), intended to protect the country's
citizens and environment from the potentially damaging effects of
genetically modified (GM) organisms.

The implication is that the government is open to allowing GM products in
the country. Yet this is in direct contrast to comments made less than a
month ago by the country's food and agriculture minister.

Ernest Debrah was quoted in the media saying that the government had
resolved to oppose GM food.

GM experts in Ghana say he was misquoted.

According to the 28 July issue of the Ghanaian Chronicle online, Debrah
said in Accra on 23 July that "the country would reject, without
hesitation, the importation of any genetically modified (GM) food, crops
and materials [even though] it might solve the famine problems being
experienced, especially in the Northern part."

Speaking to SciDev.Net, Konadu Acheampong, programme and administrative
officer at the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, a branch of the
United Nations University, said that Debrah's words were taken out of context.

"We are already developing GM crops in [Ghana]," he added.

Owusu Bennoah, director-general of the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research agrees that the press exaggerated the story.

Bennoah told SciDev.Net that Debrah said only that he did not "feel
comfortable with GM maize" and this was in reply to the question "would
you allow GM maize to enter Ghana?"

He added that the use of modern agricultural biotechnology should be
promoted in Ghana to increase food production. This, he said, would
improve food security and nutrition as well as raise the quality of life
for rural people and increase their incomes.

Bennoah said scientists are still discussing the risks that biotechnology
might present for human health and the environment. "It is our job as
scientists to explain [the scientific debate] to policymakers and
politicians," he said. "This is what we are doing."

A biotechnology expert at the food and agriculture ministry who did not
want to be named told SciDev.Net that Ghana should not reject GM food
outright. Instead, it should adopt national biosafety rules to address
the potential risks associated with GM, making sure it strengthens its
capacity to implement these regulations. If the Ghanaian cabinet approves
the environment ministry's biosafety legislation, it will go to
parliament for ratification. The next parliamentary session begins in October.


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