Ghana, Join the EU and India, Say No to GMO!

Tue, 30 Jul 2013 Source: Jehu-Appiah, Ali-Masmadi

It has been a while now since we called for a moratorium on GM foods in Ghana. We are surprised that apart from the US Embassy, no government official has even thought it fit to react to our demands, even though there has been a groundswell of a strong public support for our demand. In the light of the announcement by Monsanto Corporation, to withdraw applications for GMOs in the EU because of the non-acceptance on scientific grounds and rejection by civil society, we take this opportunity to reiterate our call for a moratorium on GM foods in Ghana.

This position has been further strengthened by the recent recommendations by the Technical Experts Committee of the Supreme Court of India. It must be recalled that India was one of the countries which embraced genetic engineering in their agriculture. Thus they have enough experience to draw the appropriate lessons and evaluate its usefulness for their people and their environment. What they have to say about it should be of interest to us here in Ghana. It is therefore highly significant that a scientific committee comprising some of the best brains in India are recommending an indefinite moratorium on GE crops.

We find it suspicious that considering the hostility between the Opposition New Patriotic Party, NPP, and the ruling party, the National Democratic Congress, NDC, the only thing they seem to agree on is one thing that most Ghanaians are strongly opposed to! They seem to be listening to a voice other than the voices of the good people of Ghana. It is a great shame that our Parliament managed to unanimously pass an Act on Biosafety even though we have been told by a Member of Parliament that most Parliamentarians do not know what biosafety is even about!

Note that, when US officials and institutions, and their tame scientists, advise Ghana's politicians on GMOs and genetic engineering law, they speak for their corporate masters. When large international institutions offer farmers free improved seed, it is like drug dealers offering free drugs to entice new customers. The corporations then use patents to claim they own our food, our crops, and our seeds. The corporations want Ghana to pass laws so they can sue Ghanaian farmers like they do in the US. They have sued and collected $24 million from US farmers so far, based on their patents. Instead of feeding the world, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont etc have driven the price of seed up many hundreds percent. The farmers get poorer, the foreign corporations get richer.

With the news that "New generation of crops resistant to floods, droughts and extreme temperatures, using technology more effective than GMO (see: http:// ind.pn/18LtMzz), do we really need GM agriculture? Contrary to what Professor Walter Alhassan would have Ghanaians to believe, there are today, amazing disease resistance breakthroughs that do not require GE technology (see: http:// bit.ly/1aRfbA1), It appears that it is not only our politicians that are giving Ghanaians a raw deal, but our scientists who ought to know better. Despite the public relations efforts of agribusinesses and the scientists on their payroll to promote GMO as key to increase food production, there is much evidence showing that GMO’s have not contributed to major yield increases, nor drought resistance, and has generated superweeds and superbugs that require increased use of even more dangerous herbicides and pesticides. The vast majority of current GMO crops is used for animal feed, not for people. Then people eat the GMOs when we eat those animals.

The irrevocable contamination of our food chain with genetically modified organisms is an unconscionable horror that must not be allowed to happen to Ghana. and we call upon every Ghanaian who eats food to remain vigilant and to demand democratic accountability from their elected representatives.

We wish to take this opportunity to signal a warning to scientists who are working on GMO’s because that is where they can get research funds, that their role is not in promoting the huge profits of giant agricultural corporations, but the real needs of people. We congratulate those agricultural researchers, like Kofi Boa in Kumasi, who have not buckled to the influence of agribusiness, by pursuing research into mulching, green manure, intercropping, rotation, cover crops, soil conservation, best suited for our small scale Ghanaian farmers.

We call on the President to do the right thing and to impose an indefinite moratorium on GM foods in Ghana until it is clear that such an irrevocable step is absolutely crucial for our survival, and not simply a highly misconceived business venture by some unscrupulous corporations who, being turned away by India and Europe, have no qualms about now using Ghanaians as Guinea pigs, for their private profits. We wish to remind the President of his Oath of Office to defend and protect the well-being of Ghanaians.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah, Chairperson, FSG

Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH

Columnist: Jehu-Appiah, Ali-Masmadi