Ghana gov’t sued over GM foods

Civil society group, Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), has sued the National Biosafety Committee set up by the Ghana government and the Ministry of Agriculture in a bid to prevent them from releasing and commercialising genetically modified cowpeas and rice.

According to the FSG, the government cannot go ahead to implement the process for genetically modified foods since it has failed to comply with the provisions of the main Biosafety Act.

“We are not only calling for an injunction on the commercialisation of GM rice and Bt-cowpeas but on all GM crops until the National Biosafety Authority is in place,” FSG spokesperson George Tetteh Wayo said in a statement after filing a writ at the High Court.

According to the Biosafety Act, until such an Authority has been instituted commercial release of the genetically modified foods in Ghana can never go ahead since that will be the sole body with such responsibility.

Ghana is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which in part requires parties to promote public awareness and education regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms, the statement said. The agreement also requires parties to consult the public on decisions regarding food biosafety.

“We maintain that none of these provisions are being respected, and we find the situation of lawlessness surrounding the imposition of Genetically Modified Organisms on Ghanaians most alarming as biosafety is a matter of life and death,” the FSG said.

“The most fraudulent aspect of this is the fact that in spite of the flagrant infringement of the Biosafety Act, the scientists behind these dangerous experiments keep informing the public that everything is being done in accordance with the law,” it added.

The group is urging Ghanaians to take an interest in the matter and back it in prosecuting the case.

Ghana is one of the few African countries that have allowed the introduction of GM foods. Currently, field trials of modified rice and cowpeas as well as cotton are underway in the Ashanti and Northern regions respectively.

Genetic modification refers to techniques used to manipulate the genetic composition of an organism by adding specific useful genes. These useful genes could make crops high-yielding, disease resistant or drought-resistant.

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