Business News of 2014-08-30

Let’s embrace Plant Breeders’ Bill – CSIR boss

Dr. Hans Adu-Dapaah, Director, CSIR-Crops Research Institute at Fumesua near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, has said that the Plant Breeders Bill is a positive development which seeks to address the interests of plant breeders as well as promote agricultural productivity.

“The benefits of the Bill cut across several sectors of the economy and will promote national development within the context of sustainable national development,” he said

Dr. Adu-Dapaah said this in a presentation titled “Misconceptions about the Plant Breeders’ Right Bill” which was delivered on his behalf at a training workshop for media practitioners held at Ejisu in the Ashanti Region.

The focal points of the workshop were biotechnology, bio safety, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among others.

The crop scientist pointed out that the CSIR-CRI and other agricultural research institutions, both private and public, stand to enjoy royalties on their findings should the bill be passed. This, he noted, will encourage more research institutions to come out with more technological developments to enhance agricultural productivity.

Sections of the public, particularly civil society organisations and traditional authorities, have vehemently objected to the Bill. They are of the view that it has the propensity to give multinational companies the leverage to highjack crops’ seed breeding.

Dr. Adu-Dapaah argued, however, that the international component of the Bill is an important means of technology transfer and effective utilization of genetic resources.

The Bill, he said, “will promote the growth of the seed industry and safeguard the lawful right and interest of plant breeders, provide an incentive to stimulate new breeding initiatives that will focus on national development, offer a basis for innovative and effective breeding work at domestic level.

“It will unveil the potential for market demands to be met where the development of new varieties are commercially viable, provide benefits at international level by removing barriers to trade in varieties, thereby increasing both domestic and international market scope,” he added.

Touching on genetically modified crops, Dr. Adu-Dapaah said: “Research on GM plants and derived products so far developed and marketed, following usual risk assessment procedures, has not shown any risks on human health or the environment. There is no credible evidence t show that GM foods are more harmful that non-GM foods.”

Mr. Samuel Edudzi Timpo, Senior Programme officer, Socio-economic Aspects Biosafety-African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), on his part, said GM plants are only being advocated to supplement conventional seeds in order to give farmers wide range of options but not to replace existing seeds.

According to him, Burkina Faso has since 2008 commercialised BT cotton and it has become a key contributor to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, adding “it is a necessity for Ghana to embrace GM crops to enhance agricultural productivity.”

Source: B&FT
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