Business News of 2014-01-17

There’s nothing harmful about GM foods – Committee

The National Biosafety Committee, the nation’s interim regulator of Genetically Modified Foods in the country has assured Ghanaians that there is nothing harmful about GM Foods.

A member of the committee and former Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Walter Alhassan Sundow is certain GM foods that have gone through the required safety testing procedures could be considered safer than the conventionally produced one because of the tedious approval procedures they go through.

He noted Genetically Modified crops have the potential of producing pest resistant crops, nitrogen efficient crops, drought resistant crops, and thereby helping increase yield and more nutritious crops quality.

He was speaking at a training programme for journalists in Accra on Thursday. 'Illegal' Meanwhile, Government has been accused of committing an illegality by permitting the CSIR to begin research that would allow the production of genetically modified food in the country.

Civil Society Group, Food Sovereignty Ghana, says government breached the National Bio-safety Act 2011 in allowing the processes, when the National Bio-safety Authority has not been set up.

The CSIR is currently undertaking confined field trials of Genetically Modified rice, cowpea and cowpea, expected to hit the market soon.

Yaw Opoku of Food Sovereignty Ghana is demanding a halt in the ongoing trials. According to him, "section 11 (of the National Bio-Safety Act) states that a person shall not conduct a contained or confined use activity against genetically modified organisms or their development without the written approval of the Authority."

But the National Bio-safety Committee insists there is no illegality. Prof. Walter Alhassan Sundow, says the trials which CSIR is currently undertaking are backed by a CSIR law that does not require the setting up of the authority.

He said there is a clause in the Bio-safety Act 2011 which allows for the National Bio-Safety Committee to be formed before the Bio-Safety Authority comes into force.