The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), Dr. Amaning Okoree, has indicated that the regulator of biotechnology industry in Ghana which is the NBA, has already put in place measures to ensure safe consumption of GMO products that would be released onto the Ghanaian market.

According to him, preparations were underway for Ghana to introduce genetically modified organisms (GMO) foods onto the market. However, he said they were ready for promoters other commercial organisation who are into biotechnology products and for that matter would want to bring GMO foods onto the Ghanaian market.

Stating that, “We have strengthened our capacity to effectively regulate and conduct risk assessment of the product to ensure it is safe for consumption. There are
two main GMO crops currently being researched into and cultivated under confinement by the CSIR in Ghana.
The Nitrogen Use Efficient, Water Use Efficient and Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) rice and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cowpea.”

Dr. Amaning was addressing some section of Agric Students from the University of Ghana, the Media and stakeholders at a forum themed, “#AskAboutGMOs” which was organized by the Alliance for Science Ghana and the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), in Accra on Thursday 4th Oct, 2018.

The forum actually offered Ghanaians the opportunity to ask the authority any thorny questions they had concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Dr. Amaning Okoree, further indicated that the authority had so far granted only two bodies the permit to conduct research into GMOs in the country. However, it hasn’t granted the permit for the release of GMO products on a commercial basis onto the Ghanaian Market. Adding there were legal procedures meant to be followed as far as the introduction of GMOs onto the Ghanaian Market was concerned. Contrary to that, he said would be a fine between 2,500 and 5,000 penalty units or a jail term of five to 10 years.

Meanwhile, he assured the general public and farmers in particular that, the GMOs available were safe and could be replanted, thus Some had already been harvested and the seeds were replanted again and again.

Dr. Richard Ampadu Ameyaw, a Senior Scientist at CSIR, and the National Coordinator for the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), indicated that, they have a collected data on the BT cowpea which had been confined were on trial basis and had been taken to the
Institution sponsoring the safety and development of the cowpea in Ghana, the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (ATTF) in Kenya.

He said there was going to be a technical committee that would be set up as part of the process of releasing the new cowpea seed onto the Ghanaian Market, after the ATTF has assess the data to find out as to whether the product meets the NBA’s requirements before it could be released onto the Market.

Ms. Slyvia Tetteh, An executive member of the Alliance for Science Ghana in her speech affirmed confidently that, scientists all over the world had repeatedly confirmed the safety of GMOs, thus it is a crucial tool that could help revolutionarise Ghana’s agricultural sector.

Adding that, “Ghana is working towards introducing Genetically Modified Foods into the country’s food chain. We know work is ongoing on Bt cowpea and NEWEST rice for release onto the market sometime soon. But the debate over whether Ghana should accept GMO foods or otherwise has continued unabated, and a lot of concerns have been raised about the technology.”

However, she said “Let’s not allow this opportunity to increase productivity and deal with pests and diseases and the negative impact of climate change slip by.”

According to her, “Alliance for Science Ghana is a network of farmers, scientists, communications persons, students and other well-meaning Ghanaians working to ensure improved food and environmental security in the country. We work with agric sector stakeholders to enhance access to agricultural innovation as a means of ensuring food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life for farmers.”

Meanwhile, the President of the National Farmers Award Winners Association, Mr. Davies Narh Korboe, said many people lack the information on GMOs and they need more education to inform their decision. He therefore, underscored the need for a national dialogue on GMOs for a decision to be taken going forward.

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