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REGULATION / APPROVAL: Ghana to accept GM products soon?

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Ghana to accept GM products soon?
SOURCE: The Statesman, Ghana
AUTHOR: Adu Koranteng
DATE:   09.05.2007

Ghana to accept GM products soon?

Information gathered by The Statesman reveals that the international
community has began workshops for stakeholders in a bid to educate and
persuade them to accept genetically modified foods in Ghana.

A source at the headquarters of the Food and Drugs Board have hinted
that a bill has been drafted and expected to be presented to Parliament
for adoption and approval on how GM foods would be regulated if allowed
to circulate in the local market.

The Food and Drugs Board is said to be lacking the equipments for
testing genetically modified foods. In that regard, it is presently
collaborating with the Noguchi Institute, a Japanese Establish research
institute that has the tools to test such items.

Presently, the country frowns on the importation of GM foods with the
view that it lacks the expertise to regulate the system. Besides,
officials have little knowledge about its effect on humans and would
need scientific proof about how it works before it would be allowed into
the system.

The source debunked the assertion that GM foods, especially rice had
been smuggled into the country and are being sold to local consumers,
insisting that the market surveillance unit of the Board is yet to find
a GM product in the system, even after they intensified their search
after media reports of GM foods in the country.

Ghana recently signed a pact, joining some 150 countries, that opposes
the imposition of GM foods on them. This has propelled the international
community to set up rules that would facilitate the use of the items by
the third world countries. These include, educating them adequately on
the benefits and effects of GM products and providing scientific bases on GMs.

GM products are identified by the bold inscription "GM" on the packages.
They are produced from genetically modified organisms which have had
their genome altered through genetic engineering techniques, and have
been available since 1990, with the principal ones being derived from
soybean, maize, rice canola and cotton seed oil.

Some experts have argued that there is more than enough food in the
world and that the hunger crises is caused by problems in food
distribution, not production and that people should not be offered food
that may carry some degree of risk. Others say it might have unforeseen
consequences, both in the initially modified organisms and their environments.

In December 2005, the Zambian government changed its mind in the face of
further famine and allowed the importation of GM maize. In April 2004,
Hugo Chavez announced a total ban on genetically modified seeds in
Venezuela. The Hungarian government announced a ban on importing and
planting of genetic modified maize seeds in January 2005.

On August 2006, American exports of rice to Europe were interrupted when
much of the US crop was confirmed to be contaminated with unapproved
engineered genes.

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