Business News of 2013-12-03

'No genetically modified foods on Ghanaian market'

The Deputy Minister in charge of crops, Dr Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu, has described the decision by the Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) to kick against the introduction of the genetically-modified (GM) foods and crops as unfortunate, since there are no such products on the Ghanaian market.

“As a matter of policy, there are no GM foods approved on the Ghanaian markets, so I don’t know what Food Sovereignty Ghana is protesting against,” he said.

According to him, research is still going on about certain GM crops and their introduction into the country would be based on the outcome of the research.

Dr Yakubu, however, added that although GM food was not yet on the Ghanaian market, it would find its way into the market because of cross-border trade among countries, saying “some countries within the borders of Ghana are already into GM crops and so whether we like it or not, by drift or by design, the GM crops would eventually be in Ghana because our farmers would exchange them across our borders”.

The deputy minister was responding to concerns raised by the Food Sovereignty Ghana, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) concerned with food safety issues, about the GM crops and foods in the country.

Food sovereignty Ghana embarked on a march against the introduction of genetically modified crops and foods into the Ghanaian markets on October 12, this year at the Agbloboshie market in Accra, to sensitise traders to the health effects of the crops and called on them to reject their introduction.

According to them, GM foods were associated with heart diseases, fibroid, diabetes, and cancers among others and as such, they were not good for human consumption.

They also raised concern about the economic implications farmers and the country were likely to face if the crops were allowed into the country.

To go GM or not

According to Dr Yakubu, GM crop is a global cutting- edge technology and its introduction into the country would be of a great advantage to the country’s agricultural growth.

He indicated that GM crops were not intended to set aside the conventional crops but to increase options that were available to developing countries to improve agriculture.

Health dangers

Dr Yakubu indicated that though he agreed to some of the concerns raised by the FSG, they were not enough reasons to call for the rejection of the introduction of GM crops into the country.

Speaking on the health dangers of the GM crops, he explained that those sicknesses said to be associated with the crops were already being suffered by some Ghanaians even when they were not using the GM crops.

He, however, noted that research had indicated that GM crops were not in any way dreadful as mentioned by the FSG and called on Ghanaians to listen to opinion based on scientific research rather than mere hearsay.

Food Sovereignty Ghana

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Deputy Director of FSG, Mr Duke Tagoe, said the passing of the Biosafety Bill by Parliament and the trial tests being carried out in some parts of the country were all efforts being made by the government to introduce the crops onto the Ghanaian market.

He further stated that Ghanaians would not be able to differentiate between GM and conventional food products on the market for which reason Ghanaians were not safe.

Mr Tagoe urged the Food and Drug Board to help with the detection of the products by insisting on labeling of all products imported into the country.