April 13, 2012

Parliament has passed a Biosafety Bill to establish a legal framework to provide the machinery for regulating biotechnology and biosafety.

Biotechnology is an application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives, to make or modify products or processes for a specific use.

A statement issued in Accra on Thursday by Mrs Florence Boakye, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and copied to the Ghana News Agency said the technology had been in existence in Ghana for a long time.

“The fermentation processes used in the local preparation of certain foods and beverages are indeed biotechnological applications,” it noted.

The statement explained that kenkey preparation and pito brewing were typical examples of indigenous industries that employed biotechnology.

It said modern biotechnology however, used certain techniques to change the initial basic character of a original substance, adding that, modern biotechnology was relatively young in Ghana.

The statement noted that other on-going applications of first and second generation biotechnology included enzyme-based activities, such as the development of starter cultures, biofertiliser and non-recombinant vaccines.

Although modern, third generation biotechnology has been recognised as an important tool for seeking solutions to some of the country’s agricultural and health related problems, only few research institutes and universities, are in a position to employ modern biotechnology techniques.

Currently, there is no evidence that any of these academic bodies has developed genetically modified organisms used interchangeably in the Ghanaian context, although they have the capacity and the capability to do so.

The Bill received Presidential assent on December 31, 2011.