Business News of 2014-07-07

FBOs ask for thorough debate on Plant Breeders’ Bill

Faith-based organisations (FBOs) in the country have called on Parliament to withdraw the Plant Breeders’ Bill to allow for in-depth analysis and to build national consensus on the issue.

“We suggest that Parliament suspend the passage of the bill in its present state till there is adequate public information on the pros and cons of the bill.

“We further call for the redrafting of the bill to address the concerns of interest groups such as farmers, local seed producers, local researchers and consumers,” they stated in a communiqué issued at the end of a day’s sensitisation workshop in Accra.

Organisers

The workshop, jointly organised by the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), the FBOs, Action AID Ghana, and the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, was sponsored by Star-Ghana.

The FBOs is made up of the National Catholic Secretariat of the Ghana Bishops Conference; the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council; the Marshallan Relief and Development Services (MAREDES); the Federation of Muslim Women of Ghana, and the Ghana Muslim Mission.

The rest are the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana; the Religious Bodies Network for Climate Change; the Ahlussuna WalJama’a and the Office of the National Chief Imam.

Position of FBOs

“We hereby state that our position on the debate on the Plant Breeders Bill has become necessary due to the importance of agriculture in the Ghanaian economy and the negative implication of the bill and GMOs to the Ghanaian food sovereignty.”

The FBOs encouraged parliament to assume a non-partisan approach in engaging with stakeholders who had concerns about the bill.

It called on President Mahama, as a matter of urgency, to intervene in halting the passage of the bill till there was clarity.

The communiqué explained that Ghanaians were not aware of what was contained in the Plant Breeders bill, adding that there had not been adequate public education and consensus on the bill.

“We are alarmed by the attempts by Parliament to pass the bill without adequate consultation with key stakeholders including the faith-based organisations,” the communiqué said, explaining that there were over 90 per cent of Ghanaians who belonged to diverse faiths and their voice should be respected.

Agricultural challenges

According to the communiqué, the FBOs hold the view that Ghana’s dwindling food production was not attributable to the non-usage of GMO technologies, but was due to the difficulties farmers faced in transporting their produce to the markets, the lack of credit, lack of storage facilities and agricultural processing.