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9-Misc: We don't need GM foods in Ghana



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TITLE:  We Don't Need Genetically Modified Foods
SOURCE: Ghana Web, by Isaac Kusi, NY
        http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=89167
DATE:   31 Aug 2005

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We Don't Need Genetically Modified Foods

There have been a few articles written on this site about genetically
modified foods. The minister of Agriculture has been flip-flopping on
this issue. First, I was full of praises when I heard about the ban on GM
foods and a few days later he comes round to support GM foods.

Ghana gained independence in 1957 and lost it as we have become perfectly
neo-colonized. This time the colonial masters are not coming to stay in
the castle to direct affairs as they did so many years ago. They pass
orders through our elected and appointed officials who ram it down our
throats. In other cases they would pay respected people in the society to
speak on their behalf. If a company like Monsanto sets up offices in
Africa and promotes GM foods it's a new form of colonization with profits
as the ulterior goal. We are told to abandon our organic products in
favor of GM foods. When we get used to it then we'll spend our hard
earned foreign exchange to import these seeds. Even if we pay in local
currency, that money will be transferred abroad in the form of profits.
And that contributes to capital flight. We have already passed laws as
incentives to investors to transfer 100% of their profits. So what do we
gain? There are jobs created but the pay is just enough for the workers
to go to work. As of now a visit to Monsanto's website shows they have
strategically established offices in Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, South
Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. They may already be in Ghana under the guise
of an NGO and trying to influence our decision makers including our
scientists. In an earlier article on Aug. 20 by Prof Abrokwah, he
mentions some of these countries as having embraced this technology.

There is the argument about the increased yield per acre of GM crops but
if we can improve on our farming methods, including mechanized farming in
the northern part of Ghana, irrigation, good soil preservation and crop
rotation, we'll be able to grow enough organic food for local consumption
and export without fertilizer. We need more silos to store grains. We've
had the Workers Brigade, State Farms, Food Production division of the
Ministry of Agriculture and there was no want of food. How come we
produce 700 million tons of cocoa for export and can't plant corn to feed
ourselves? We have abandoned farming for the city. There is available
land in the country for farming. And I can assure you, the best part of
my life was spent on the plantations with my father who worked for the
Ministry of Agriculture, Cocoa Division, and later with the State Farms
Corporation. I tasted rural life and I know it's the best life.

There are a lot of factors that have also affected our food production.
We encouraged timber export that led to deforestation, which has in turn
affected our weather pattern. The present government should be credited
for investing heavily in tree planting whose effect will be felt in about
a hundred years from now, provided we don't cut them down prematurely.
Although there are efforts to promote family planning, there should be
much education on abstention. In the sixties when TV was introduced, we
saw educational programs and we'll sit in front of the TV in the daytime
learning mathematics, but these days its mostly gyrating hips and foreign
soap operas leading to more sex and irresponsible births and exponential
growth of the population leading to more mouths to feed. We need to clean
the airwaves by introducing decent movies and music. This will lead to a
check on population growth. In 1980, the population was about 10 million
and twenty-five years later it is about 22 million.

In the US if you go to the supermarket, organically grown food cost more
than the GM foods. Organically grown foods are mostly sold in affluent
white neighborhoods. In the beginning was the word and so should it be.
God created a seed for each fruit on earth. So tell me why I should go to
the supermarket to buy seedless grapes, or tomatoes that can stay in my
refrigerator for three weeks without getting rotten. Anytime the farmer
wants to grow the GM corn, soybean, or cotton, he has to go to a company
that owns the seed to buy them. The company, which created it, owns
rights to it. Any other company that tries to copy the technology has
breached their creation and would be sued. If the wind blows and carries
pollen from a GM farm to yours and there is cross-pollination without
your knowledge or your fault, the owner of the crop will legally come
after you. Can you imagine if a seed is created to grow yams or
plantains? Even scientists here do not know the full impact of GM foods
on humans and their environment. There is fear of creation of super weed
that will be resistant to herbicides and super insects that will be
resistant to insecticides. Some of the GM seeds have insecticides
inserted in them; some of them have identification tags inserted that
will enable owners to identify their crops. Is this what we want to eat?

The American government has established ASNAPP at Rutgers University in
NJ to start analyzing plants from Ghana and Africa. This shows an
interest in our products. If they were genetically modified, nobody in
the western world would touch it. Organic farming is the way to go. The
government has imported hundreds of tractors so we have to put them to
good use by cultivating the land. Organic market is growing at a fast
rate and will make agricultural products from Ghana preferred worldwide.
And quoting Dr. Aggrey, "Only the best is good enough for Africa"




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