February 12, 2014

Parliament on Tuesday dismissed claims that the Plant Breeders Bills currently at the consideration stage has something to do with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

According to the Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Hon. Alban Bagbin, it is very worrying the frantic effort by some section of the public to link the Bill to GMO, and also create an erroneous impression that GMO are dangerous to the health of Ghanaians.

The Speaker Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho put on hold further discussion of the Bill in Parliament and referred the Committee to further engage some stakeholders, after an NGO Food Sovereignty Ghana, petitioned the Speaker about their concerns about the Bill.

Following the uproar, a forum was organized by the Ministry of Information, the Parliamentary Centre, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, which was attended by scientists from KNUST ,farmer groups and other civil society organizations where all concerns and misconceptions about the Bill was addressed.

Addressing the gathering, Hon. Alban Bagbin stated that the Bill, seeks to create an environment for Ghanaians to create plants and seeds locally and not import from abroad and also protect the intellectual property rights of the farmers who do any inventions.

He noted that already plant breeding is on-going in Ghana where we now have the type of cocoa which is resistant to pest, adding that the Bill will encourage other farmers and researchers to come up with crops that are pest resistant.

Hon. Bagbin stated that Ghana’s neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso are ahead of Ghana when it comes to the use of plant breeding in the growing of tomatoes, onions etc which some of us Ghanaians consume.

With the several concerns addressed the Committee is expected to report back to the Speaker following which the Bill will be taken through the consideration stage and further stages prior to its passage.