Business News of 2014-01-08

Genetically modified foods to affect exports

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) says the introduction of Genetically Modified crops into the country could hurt its efforts to boost non-traditional exports into the European Union and the other developed countries.

“In view of the overwhelming evidence of the EU and Western World’s attitude to GM foods it would be detrimental for Ghana to introduce the organism into its crops as all products stand the risk of being rejected and thereby reducing the percentage of exports to the region,” GEPA said in a statement signed by Mr Gideon Quarcoo, Acting Chief Executive Officer.

In 2012, 44.55% of Ghana’s non-traditional products was exported to the European Union and other Developed countries and GEPA hopes to increase this percentage in order to achieve the US billion target set by the government for 2017.

The statement said the potential economic harm would be incalculable if Ghana were to be labelled a GM haven exporting GM crops to the world.

Serving the nation through the development and promotion of Ghana’s non-traditional exports (NTEs), that is Agriculture, Processed and Semi-Processed, Handicrafts and Services, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has worked assiduously to increase NTE earnings from US.164 billion in 2007 to US.364 billion in 2012.

Lately, there has been talk about adopting genetically modified organisms into crops produced in Ghana. GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques.

It is believed that adapting genetically modified organisms into various crops would increase pest resistance and decrease crop losses to ensure adequate food supply to the ever growing world population.

However, this assertion has been disputed by environmentalists, public interest groups, professional associations and religious organizations that have raised concerns about GM foods and criticized the proponents for pursuing profit without concern for potential hazards.

The statement said although governments have not been fully responsive to the mounting evidence of harm from GMOs, consumers is reacting in greater numbers. The impact can be significant and world-changing. In Europe, after the media publicized significant health risks of GMOs in early 1999, a tipping point of consumer rejection forced the food companies to commit to remove GM ingredients from that continent.

Now consumer rejection in the U.S. appears to be setting the stage for the removal of GMOs in that country as well. Consumer concern over GMO health risks has driven unprecedented demand for non-GMO products.

In 2012 sales of non-GMO labeled products in the United States increased more than any other health and wellness category, according to 2012 Nielsen Health and Wellness Claims Performance Report.

An executive at the national food store chain Whole Foods said that when a product becomes verified as non-GMO, sales increase by 15-30 percent.