Food Sovereignty Ghana

A grass-roots food advocacy movement of Ghanaians both home and abroad!

May 18, 2019
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Solidarity with March Against Monsanto Accra Saturday 18th May

FSG Director of Communications, Mr. Edwin Baffour at the International Press Centre today, (Middle), flanked by Mr. evans Tawiah, Secretary, and Mr. Aswad Nkrabea, Director of Mobilization.

FSG Director of Communications, Mr. Edwin Baffour at the International Press Centre today, (Middle), flanked by Mr. evans Tawiah, Secretary, and Mr. Aswad Nkrabea, Director of Mobilization.

Solidarity with March Against Monsanto Accra Saturday 18th May

Good morning, Ladies and gentlemen of the press, friends and members of Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG).  I would like to start by thanking you sincerely for honouring our invitation this morning.  I must also hasten to thank the members of the general public who have made time to attend. On behalf of FSG I thank Ghanaians for the overwhelming show of support following the court ruling on the jurisdiction of our case in the Human Rights High Court earlier this week. Our Facebook has been literally inundated with thousands of messages of support and congratulations. Ghanaians are clearly paying attention, and it is a shame that our politicians are not!

In respect of the annual ban on drumming and noise making within the Ga traditional area where Accra is located, this year we will avoid the challenges that arise from the temptation of our passionate participants to raise their voices while we ply through the approved route of our march.  We have thus decided to engage Ghanaians with our important message through a press conference instead.

Food Sovereignty Ghana stands today in solidarity with hundreds of cities and millions of people around the world against the unethical and destructive corporate practice of Bayer Monsanto.   This is the fifth consecutive year we have observed and supported this important event of global relevance and we continue.

March Against Monsanto, is an international grassroots movement against Monsanto Corporation, in protest at the company’s practices of using their affluence to influence the outcome of legislation, regulations, research findings, media narratives, etc. The movement was founded by Tami Canal in response to the failure of California’s Proposition 37, a ballot initiative which would have required labelling of food products made from GMOs. Monsanto was reported to have poured in $7,100,500 to help narrowly defeat California’s *Proposition 37.  On June 7, 2018 German pharmaceutical giant Bayer bought Monsanto for $63 Billion.

FSG has for the past six years been advocating against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in our agriculture and moved to the law courts in 2015 at the first announcement of plans to commercially release genetically modified cowpeas and rice on the Ghanaian market by government agencies. This position has not changed due to the amount of overwhelming evidence in independent research that clearly points to negative impacts on health and the environment of GMO despite the attempts to legitimize it by a strong and well-funded lobby.

We wish to recognize at this point the wide coalition of stakeholders who have aligned with our concerns about the introduction of GMO into our food system.  These include the Christian Council of Ghana, The Catholic Bishops Conference, The Ghana Muslim Mission, The Office of The Chief Imam, The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), The Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress, the Rastafari Council of Ghana, Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), and Food Span among others.  Posterity shall surely be kind to your principled position you have all taken in the interest of today’s children , the environment as well as future generations.

In the words of A. Samsel “We arguably, are faced with the most serious scientific fraud in the history of science and hazardous technologies. The multi-dimensional impacts of GMOs are staggering and they are global. These translate into a biosecurity threat of global proportions, a threat by “Monsanto and chemical companies, who continue to destroy the biosphere”

According to the Guardian newspaper of May 15, 2019, a landmark decision, by a California jury in the USA  awarded a record $2.055 Billion in damages and compensation to a couple after it was proven that the controversial products of Bayer Monsanto had caused their non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).  This is a clear vindication of the position that FSG has held since its inception that the company due to its unethical corporate record should not be trusted.  Bayer Monsanto is the largest agrochemical entity globally and is the lead driver for countries especially developing ones like Ghana to adopt their GMO technology where the seeds have been engineered to tolerate these dangerous chemicals like glyphosate.

After all the sound research that has informed our position against GMO, as a responsible civil society organisation, we have no choice but to seek the endorsement of Ghanaian citizens to support a mandatory labelling regime for food made from GMOs.   Apart from countries like Argentina, India and Brazil, we also have the benefit of learning from our own neighbour Burkina Faso who recently experienced a five year disaster in growing GM cotton and has now resorted to conventional strains that are providing higher yields and debunking the myths peddled by the pro GMO lobby.  The documented resistance of the Boll worm to GM maize in the US and the pink boll worm to GM cotton in India respectively go to show the fact that such unintended risks associated with GMO’s should better inform our policy makers as early warning signs.  This puts into true context the efforts of organisations like the  Alliance For Science as well as the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) who despite all these real facts are desperately trying to deceive Ghanaians that GMO would be of great benefit to Ghana.  The truth is Ghana’s agriculture is challenged by a lack of road infrastructure from farm gate to market, a lack of credit to farmers, lack of irrigation interventions and little post-harvest infrastructure to preserve the abundant harvests our farmers get.  The introduction of GMO’s will not address any of these critical concerns.

We support the call for labelling but since GMOs are yet to be cultivated in Ghana, we go beyond the call for labelling in demanding an indefinite moratorium on or a ban on all GM foods in Ghana! We take note of the debate going on at the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Ghana, to introduce voluntary labelling rather than mandatory labelling of GMOs, and reiterate our demand for mandatory labelling of everything GMO in the food chain of Ghanaians.    We are further encouraged by a recent ruling in the Human Rights High Court where Ghana’s first case concerning biotechnology is being heard.  This week the court ruled that FSG had properly invoked the jurisdiction of the High Court in seeking its remedies as submitted.

FSG is encouraged by studies such as the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a project developed out of a consultative process involving 100 countries and more than 400 experts who come out clearly to play down any meaningful role biotechnology could play in meeting the food needs of our growing populations, and in the light of the challenges posed by climate change. The IAASTD was launched as an intergovernmental process, under the co-sponsorship of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the Global Environment Fund (GEF); the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

We continue our call on HE President Nana Akufo Addo and his government to reconsider Ghana’s agricultural agenda where genetically modified organism (GMO) seem to be in the plans.  It is extremely worrying that Ghana is losing sight of a clear opportunity that has presented itself for us which is the growing organic produce market around the world.  We enjoy a comparative advantage to exploit this market which is valued globally at $97 Billion as at 2017.  https://www.statista.com/statistics/273090/worldwide-sales-of-organic-foods-since-1999/ .

It is therefore critical to keep reminding our key stakeholders of the dangers of doing business with BayerMonsanto’s products embedded in our plans given the current legal precedence that is being set in the US where courts of competent jurisdiction have found Monsanto liable for the damages caused by its flagship product “Round Up” with its toxic and carcinogenic ingredient Glyphosate.  The question is can Ghanaians afford the legal proceedings to arrive such logical conclusions?

We repeat our call on the administration of H.E .Nana Akufo Addo to orientate government policy on agriculture towards what all the experts are saying: agroecology. The technology currently exists that is developing drought-resistant, pest resistant and high yielding crops through traditional breeding and selection. Marker Assisted Agro-ecological farming is not only inexpensive, and sustainable, it is far more successful than GM technology.

Agro ecological techniques are already safely and inexpensively producing crops with increasing yields plus tolerance and resistance to environmental stressors. We should forget GMOs and concentrate on agro ecological agriculture. The only reason why our “development partners” are opposed to this is because their multinational corporations shall lose the attempts to monopolize our food through GMO patents. They see our agricultural wealth as raw material to be extracted from Ghana in order to power their economic engine. We need to control and develop our agricultural wealth to power Ghana’s economic engine.

We again use this opportunity to repeat our call on policy makers to reconsider the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (PBB).  Over the years given we have through several press releases maintained that  the bill in its current form is too rigid, unsuitable, and illegitimate and there are still forces ignoring our call for a “sui generis’ plant protection system as required by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to protect the intellectual property of plant breeders.  In concluding our consultations with the Parliamentary select Committee on Agriculture in 2018, it was agreed between the CSO’s and  the honourable panel that in the interest of the significant constituency of farmers all over Ghana, legislators needed to take another look at the Bill.  During that particular meeting we recall the cooperation we received from the Late Honourable Emmanuel Agyarko to have an honest review.

In November 2018 we were privilegded to address the Economic and Special Development Intitaives Committee of the Council of State.  Three out of six of the distinguished panel were in agreement with the position we presented and we are encouraged that Ghanaians at all levels of our society are giving us great support as they understand the real issues.

Ghana is at a cross roads and must make some very sound and well informed decisions.  Given the fact that we live in the age of information there is no excuse for a whole nation not be well informed from a policy, making perspective given the overwhelming evidence especially produced by independent researchers.  We are confident that given the past human rights record of H.E President Nana Akufo Addo, there is still hope where the welfare of Ghanaians is concerned.

#NOGMO4GH
– 

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

 

 

Lawyer Bright Akwetey, second from right, flanked by some of the Executive Members of FSG, (from left to right) Messrs. Edwin Baffour, Raswad Nkrabea, and Ras Zewu, at the foregrounds of the Accra Human Rights Court.

May 16, 2019
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VICTORY!!! Court Rules In Favour Of Food Sovereignty Ghana!

Accra, 15th May, 2019

Lawyer Bright Akwetey, second from right, flanked by some of the Executive Members of FSG, (from left to right) Mr. Edwin Baffour, Raswad Nkrabea, and Ras Zewu, at the foregrounds of the Accra Human Rights Court.

Lawyer Bright Akwetey, second from right, flanked by some of the Executive Members of FSG, (from left to right) Messrs. Edwin Baffour, Raswad Nkrabea, and Ras Zewu, at the foregrounds of the Accra Human Rights Court.

The Accra Human Rights Court has thrown out an objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try the case involving the authorisation of confined field trials of the first GM crops in Ghana, ruling in favour of FSG.

This is the second victory in a row. It would be recalled that the defendants, after failing to throw out the case in the Appeals Court on the grounds that the ruling on the interlocutory injunction against the intended realise of BT Cowpea and GM Rice until the final determination of the suit, arguing that the court ruling had determined the entire case.

This time, the defendants had raised issues dealing with the jurisdiction of the High Court to deliberate on case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, against the commercialisation of genetically modified crops (GM crops) in Ghana. They cited Section 26 of the Biosafety Act 831 which establishes a tribunal for resolving issues relating to bio-engineering and technology.

In her ruling the judge upheld the right of FSG to seek appropriate remedies from the Human Rights Court, insisting that the FSG suit is not pre-mature as the jurisdiction of the court has been properly invoked. More details shall be made available soon.

The court shall sit again on June 7 2019.

FSG shall hold a press conference at the Ghana International Press Centre at Ridge at 10 am on Saturday morning May 18.

Mr. ​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG, second from left, in a chat with Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, 
Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation.

March 31, 2019
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Government Must Be Coherent On GMO Policy

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) urgently calls on the government to be coherent in its policy on the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) into our food chain and desist from misleading media sound bites calibrated to throw dust into the eyes of the public.

We find it interesting that the minister has made a one eighty degree turn on his position on GMOs, but we would like to see the government speak in one voice in the same manner as the minister did recently: describing GMO as a “controversial subject”, he told the WFP country managers that “a section of Ghanaian society was seriously against it and, indeed, we don’t need it”, explaining that what the country had in terms of improved seeds was sufficient.”

We believe this is a sign that the government is feeling the push-back from the Ghanaian public. This is happening at a time that the GM lobby has been intensifying their pro-GMO campaign activities involving local scientists, media personnel and some farmers. The Ghanaian public has clearly seen through such efforts, and are asking the right questions. Dr. Afriyie cannot extricate himself from the GMO debacle without clarifying the official position of his own ministry on the matter.

We therefore take notice that after vigorously defending GMOs to the extent of earning the acronym “GMO Minister”, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has been compelled to again insist on a change of his position. Whilst FSG welcomes the minister’s new appreciation of the reality as a progressive development, it must be clear to all that this is not enough.

Reactions across the board among our membership as well as colleagues in the civil society and agroecology advocacy movements overwhelmingly see this as a step in the right direction from a key policy maker.  However, most are quick to add that there is still a lack of clarity on what the position of the Government of Ghana is on the introduction of GMOs into our food chain, despite the fact that scientific uncertainties persist, and consumers right to know is currently being undermined by the lack of laws requiring even the labelling of the so-called “approved” GMOs!

What we find most worrying here is the fact that Dr. Afriyie’s position appears to be an attempt to camouflage the official government policy, possibly with an eye on the 2020 elections. Clearly aware of the unpopularity of the plans of the GMO lobby, the government has clearly been very timid in promoting its official policy on GMOs. The only rare occasion we came across an official from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, publicly declaring the stand of the government was during a “Question and Answer Session On Genetically Modified Foods And Its Implications For Ghana”, at the Obed Asamoah Conference Room of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, 16th January, 2018, Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah, Deputy Director for Crop Services,  Ministry of Food and Agriculture declared the stand of the government as being for the introduction of GMOs into our food chain.

Consequently, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation urged the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Board to educate the public on biotechnology and biosafety issues. He said it will help the public understand and embrace biotechnology as a better alternative to socio-economic advancement.

He said “Biotechnology is so important and we can’t develop without it”, adding that countries like China in 1986 embraced biotechnology and did extensive research in various biotechnology systems which resulted in its fast advancement globally.

The government cannot be speaking about GMOs from both sides of the mouth, where one side says “Yes”, and the other side says “No”. We find it disingenuous to tergiversate over an issue as serious as this just for electoral reasons. GMO’s are engineered to tolerate high doses of dangerous chemicals like glyphosate, which is now a proven carcinogen.  

We live in a world of dangerous chemicals and fraudulent corporations. The government therefore needs to be as proactive as the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development of Malawi, which has announced its intention to suspend the import permit for Monsanto’s Roundup into the country. Should not our own government be doing this for the safety of Ghanaians? There is already a third trial of Monsanto’s Roundup on the way. The first two all went against Monsanto, with their Roundup cited as being the causative agent of the non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We need to be be grateful for the precedents set in law by the recent court findings in San Francisco and payments of damages and compensations to, first, Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, and to Edwin Hardeman, 70, who used Roundup to control weeds and poison oak on his property for 26 years.

“We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that … Roundup could cause cancer,” Johnson’s lawyer Brent Wisner said in a statement. The verdict, he added, sent a “message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits”. The game is almost over. Monsanto is facing more than 4,000 similar cases across the US. We call on the government to put Ghana first, and protect the health and environment of Ghanaians.

We repeat our call on the government for an indefinite moratorium on the introduction of GM food and feed into our food chain. At the same time, at the very minimum, we call for the labelling of all food and feed that contains GMO to afford consumers the right to know the contents of the products they purchase with their often scarce resources! https://t.co/M9drgNv9r6

We also call for strict liability regarding the possible harm that the consumption and cultivation of GMOs can have on Ghanaians and the environment. We believe the language used in article 6 of Tanzania’s “Environmental Management (Biosafety) Regulations 2009″:
  “All approvals for introduction of GMO or their products shall be subject to a condition that the applicant is strictly liable for any damage caused to any person or entity.”  

According to the FDA, “Mandatory labelling regulations require food products derived wholly or partially from GMOs to be labelled in accordance with guidelines; failure to comply with regulations attracts a penalty which is usually very hefty. On the other hand, voluntary regulations provide guidelines for labelling foods derived from GMOs, however, the decision to label is taken by the food product manufacturer or distributor.” A voluntary labelling is thus out of the question and not in the interest of public safety in Ghana.  

These are issues that call for urgent government attention since Ghanaians take their food personally and very seriously.

– 

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSGContact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

FSG in Court 2nd April

March 7, 2019
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GMO Court Case: Hearing On March 11

FSG in Court 2nd April  
GMO Court Case: Hearing On March 11

by Food Sovereignty Ghana,  

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) appears before the Accra Human Rights High Court on Monday, 11 March 2019, over the first GMO case in Ghana, in which the organisation is challenging the commercial release of Bt cowpea and GM rice, as well as the legal basis for the confined field trials approved by the National Biosafety Authority.

It will be recalled that the case was last adjourned on Tuesday, 12 February 2019, when FSG prayed the court for time to submit some additional material of relevance for record. The court in turn granted the request and ordered all documents to be filed with responses by all parties within seven days.

FSG is praying the court to focus on the illegalities committed by the NBA, which include the setting up of their Tribunal, for which we are seeking remedies. For example, at the time of going to court, the members of the Appeals Tribunal had not even been gazetted as required under Section 26 (2) which states clearly that, “The members of the Appeals Tribunal shall be appointed by the Minister and the appointments shall be published in the Gazette”.

It is the contention of FSG that what the Section 26 of the Act, that the defendants rest upon to challenge the jurisdiction of the court really shows is yet another example of the several breeches of the Biosafety Act, for which we are already before the court. FSG is praying the court to dismiss their petition, as these breaches clearly justify the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Court over the case.

The hearing begins at 10 am.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour

Communications Directorate,

FSG Contact: +233 207973808 E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

 

Banku and okro soup deaths: Death toll rises to six  https://t.co/ykqrPKGVA9

March 4, 2019
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Chlorpyrifos Pesticides: Is the Government “Planting For Food And Death”?

Banku and okro soup deaths: Death toll rises to six  https://t.co/ykqrPKGVA9

Banku and okro soup deaths: Death toll rises to six https://t.co/ykqrPKGVA9

Exactly a year ago today, on 4th March, 2018, news broke out in Ghana, that “four persons have died at Akakpokope, a village in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region after consuming popular delicacy, banku and okro soup.

The deceased persons are Peace Akapko, 35; Elias Akakpo, 14; Comfort Aryee, 40 and Patience Kwaovi, 10.

The victims are said to belong to two separate families who coincidentally seemed to have eaten the same meal”. (See: 4 dead after eating banku and okro soup – https://t.co/PgciWmXcCI)

Later on, after the six people died, laboratory results confirmed “that the ‘Banku’ dish that claimed the lives of six persons at Akakpokofe in the Volta Region contained some poisonous substances, according to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)”.

The victims complained of stomach ache after eating the popular Ghanaian staple, banku and okro soup, and died soon after they were admitted to the hospital…

In a release issued Wednesday, 14th March, 2018, the FDA stated that “Laboratory results received…indicated the presence of Chlorpyrifos, a very toxic substance found in commonly used pesticides which when ingested can cause death. “… Banku deaths: Lab results reveal corn flour contained pesticide – FDA | General News 2018-03-14 https://t.co/iXGhR0yvkw

Even before the purchase and release of the chemical product to Ghanaian farmers by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Chlorpyrifos was already notorious as a neurotoxic insecticide linked to lower IQs and ADD in exposed children.

As Friends of the Earth put it,

Similar questions should be raised in Ghana about how Chlorpyrifos found its way onto the list of insecticides recommended, by the Ministry of Agriculture? See: Recommended insecticides https://t.co/iE6sd0Yewk!

And what is the current status of Chlorpyrifos in Ghana?

It should not have been distributed in the first place. We are yet to hear any sense of responsibility, compensation for the families of the victims, or even apologies, followed by a public withdrawal of the offending material: Chlorpyrifos.

It is not even clear if the offending chemical, Chlorpyrifos, has been withdrawn as we enter this year’s planting season.

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) finds it pathetic and highly irresponsible that one year on, answers to these concerns which ought to have been addressed, and answers made readily available to the public, are still nowhere to be found.

Are we waiting for the next victim(s)?

FSG has repeatedly called for a policy shift in our agriculture to adopt Agroecology. This would ensure a holistic approach to dealing with the impact of chemicals weather in relation to its effect on human health or the integrity of the environment. With increasing global demand for organic food Ghana should be strategically trying to position herself to cater to this growing demand. This is the most sustainable way to guarantee employment for the youth in the industry on a long-term basis.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

7693c867-4757-4415-8e37-e4de2b63c351

February 13, 2019
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GMO Court Case Adjourned To March 11

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) appeared before the Accra Human Rights High Court on Tuesday, 12 February 2019, in Ghana’s first landmark case concerning biotechnology, which is challenging the commercial release of Bt cowpea and GM rice, as well as the legal basis for the confined field trials approved by the National Biosafety Authority.

It will be recalled that the case was last adjourned on November 16, 2018 to allow the Judge complete her leave of duty. Lawyers for the Defendants are challenging the original jurisdiction of the High Court over decisions made under the Biosafety Act, as Section 26 of the Act establishes an Appeals Tribunal to deal with such matters.

FSG prayed the court for time to submit some additional material of relevance for record. The court in turn granted the request and ordered all documents to be filed with responses by all parties within seven days. The case will be reheard on March 11 at 10 am.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

farmer images

December 7, 2018
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FSG Salutes ALL Farmers & Fisher folk on National Farmers Day 2018.

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) joins millions of Ghanaians in celebrating the 2018 National Farmers Day.  We fully recognize these key stakeholders of our society who are more often than not, overlooked when it comes to policy-making.  This distinguished group of Ghanaians who provide a good portion of the food we consume are marginalized and under supported.  It is therefore befitting that we as a people dedicate a day to recognize their immense contributions as well as to reward and encourage excellence in the sector through special and more relevant support packages. 

FSG is however highly concerned that the sustainability factor in our agriculture must be given more attention.  All independent research is pointing to the fact that agroecology is the best form of food production in line with the urgent demands to tackle climate change on the planet.  It is of prime importance to institute programs that will protect the future integrity of the environment and its rich fauna and flora.  The impact of the corporate lobby is increasing and the consequent impact of policy making is geared to providing investors with the greatest possible returns at the cost of farmers rights and the integrity of the environment cannot continue without serious interventions.

On such a momentous occasion we call on the government of Ghana to pay great attention to the real issues that affect our capacity to grow our agricultural sector.  The fact remains that four key areas that should be the priority of policy makers to tackle rather have been sidelined while desperate attempts are being made to adopt genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology instead.  These are ensuring access for farmers to credit facilities, building roads from the farm gates to market centers, providing irrigation technology to compliment rainfall and the provision of infrastructure like warehouses to minimize post-harvest losses.  Without tackling these basic problems, Ghana’s policy making in favour of GMO technology must be seen as solving the problems of the corporations behind the powerful GMO lobby rather than the farmers.

Two key developments with global impact have occurred since the celebration of the last Farmers Day concerning GMO technology in agriculture and these continue to highlight the sound reasoning behind the position that FSG has always held about this novel technology.  Indeed we have always reiterated the fact that scientists globally do not have consensus on the safety of GMO technology. 

Firstly the vindication by a French High Court of Prof. Eric Seralini’s landmark toxicity study on the effects on lab rats of consuming Monsanto’s GM maize and secondly the $289 million law suit against Monsanto by Mr. Johnson of California who is terminally ill with a form of Lymphoma that was directly caused by his exposure to Glyphosate, which is Monsanto’s flagship ingredient in its deadly cocktails.  FSG continues to call for a complete moratorium of GMO in Ghana based on this factual evidence available.  What would be Ghana’s interest in replacing its conventional agricultural practices to dabble in an area that is already clearly full of controversy?

Critical attention must be paid to the sustainability factor in implementing the proposed “Planting for food for jobs” program.  Any program to achieve the sort of targets identified will require much attention to detail in ensuring that factors such as soil fertility, climate change, equitable access to land, information and inclusion in policy-making are addressed.  As the most important stakeholders in the food production value chain, peasant farmers deserve to be respected and have their rights protected to ensure they continue to play the invaluable role that they have played for millennia.  Farmers’ Rights include the ability to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and these are under heavy threat from the proposed Plant Breeders’ Bill. 

FSG is encouraged by the fact that during our last encounter a few months ago with the Parliamentary select committee on Environment the Chairperson, the late MP Hon. Emmanuel Agyarko, conceded that there remained some work to be done on improving the proposed bill in the interest of Ghanaians.

We must warn the government and Parliament to be aware of the interests behind the massive lobbying activities of the transnational corporations to ensure that profit-inspired policy is implemented contrary to their primary duty to seek the collective welfare of Ghanaians.

FSG is encouraged that logic will prevail in terms of Ghana and her agricultural policy-making in the area of biotechnology.  Recent positive developments in Uganda regarding amendments made to the proposed Biotechnology Bill were inspired by non-other than Uganda’s most senior stakeholder, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni. There were long-standing concerns from civil society with the contents of the law and the manner in which it was being developed to introduce GMOs in the Ugandan agricultural sector. These were compromising the rights of small holder farmers who are majority of those in the agriculture sector. Right Food, Right to a clean Environment, sustainable development, sustainable diets and biodiversity of crop, animal, fisheries and insects and the growing economic market potential of organic products in the Global market.

These concerns were reiterated by the President in his letter to the speaker dated December 21, 2017 emphasizing “naming of the Law- Bio Safety Act while it actually talks about Genetically Modified Organisms. The Rights of Ugandan farmers that have for generation after generation have developed, managed, conserved and preserved the country’s genetic resources of crops, animals,  herbs, insects and fish,  total contamination of the farming system due to unregulated random introduction of GMOs all over, protection of the organic materials,  use of poisons and dangerous bacteria as inputs in genetic engineering,” protection of indigenous varieties and breeds, protection of consumers, the competent authority to oversee the provisions of the Law and labelling.

FSG wishes to remind Ghanaians that the same issues dealt with in a progressive manner in Uganda also affect Ghanaian farmers and therefore requires the same sort of attention and intervention by our most senior stakeholders. The concerns presented by President Museveni are global concerns about genetic engineering that is why the Cartagena Protocol emphasizes the precautionary principle.

The critical clauses in the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act include a Liability and Redress Mechanism. Previously, the liability and redress system was vaguely defined to give protection to GMO developers promoting their technologies and thereby ignoring the rights of farmers.  Secondly the principle of strict liability states that whoever introduces a GMO shall be legally responsible for any damage caused as a result of the product or a process of developing it.  This clause is very essential as it is of such clauses that operationalize the precautionary principle which is a key tenet of the Cartagena Protocol to which Uganda and Ghana are signatories.  Most crucially this clause will ensure that our knowledge, ecosystems, health and nutrition are protected.  It also protects the indigenous knowledge systems or technologies of our communities. 

By renaming The National Bio Safety Act, 2017 and its previous versions of the National Biotechnology and Bio Safety Bill to the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act, 2018, the essence of the bill has been captured and aptly represents the contents of the bill which is GMOs and its regulation.  The progressive principle of benefit sharing has been introduced to protect the rights of the communities since time in millennia who have developed, shared and saved indigenous seed. Africa is facing an onslaught of GMO developers who take indigenous seed and patent them without recognizing the rights of farmers. Therefore this provision protects the right to fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources through a benefit sharing agreement.  In the area of labelling, a comprehensive labelling and liability traceability system is key feature of any bio safety law should include relevant traits and characteristics given with sufficient detail to enable traceability.   A clause has been introduced in the new law that products should be labelled “contains genetically engineered material.” This will help consumers exercise their right to choose products free from GMOs.  FSG has made several calls on the Food & Drugs Authority to ensure a mandatory labelling regime to protect the rights of the Ghanaian consumer to make informed decisions on their food consumption.  Another very progressive clause under the new law deals with contamination and co- existence, where a person who cultivates any GMO shall prevent contamination or commingling of GMO crop with any non-genetically modified crop.  Secondly any person who keeps or owns genetically modified livestock shall prevent cross breeding between genetically modified and non- genetically modified livestock. 

Finally there is the “Home of the Competent Authority” and this provision provides for an independent council known as The National Genetic Engineering Council which will be domiciled at the discretion of the President. This is a welcome provision and ensures that the promoters of GMOs are not the same people who will regulate the development of genetic engineering in the country.

With under four percent of our arable land under irrigation, it is clear that Ghana has not concentrated on harvesting the low hanging fruits but is rather being encouraged to make policy that rather protects corporate interest.  We call on the Ghanaian people to support our farmers and fisher folk by making a conscious effort to eat food that is locally grown.

FSG wishes all peasant farmers, fisherfolk and their families a Happy Farmers Day! 

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

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November 8, 2018
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URGENT ALERT! CBD COP14 Nov 2018

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As you might know, between 17th and 29th November 2018, there will be really big set of international meetings (negotiations) taking place under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity also known as COP 14 and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Sharm el-Sheid Egypt.

While the agenda comprises of many, many issues, the key and highly contested for us working on food and agriculture, food sovereignty, corporate control and capture, technological lock in etc, are:

Synthetic biology
Genome editing
Gene drives
Digital sequence information

Food Sovereignty Ghana is most grateful to the ETC Group, Third World Network TWN, and African Centre for Biodiversity ACB for this important information.

Please find below, a short and crisp 4 page briefing on the key issues and urgently request that you engage with your governments on their positions on these key issues as outlined in the briefing.

African governments are no longer allies in these international meetings. We are sure you have seen the ACB’s press release on the African Union’s position on gene drives in the context of malaria eradication on the continent. If you have missed it please go to our website www.acbio.org.za

When you have a chance please also try to read the briefing by the ETC Group on gene drives in agriculture.

A statement follows!

Kind regards

CLICK HERE FOR THE DOCUMENT:

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November 1, 2018
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GMO Court Case Faces Another Hurdle

From Left to Right: Messrs Raswad Nkrabea, Edwin Bafour Andoh, of FSG with our lawyer, Mr. George Tetteh Wayoe, and Mr. Solomon Prana from the Vegetarian Association of Ghana.

From Left to Right: Messrs Raswad Nkrabea, Edwin Bafour Andoh, of FSG with our lawyer, Mr. George Tetteh Wayoe, and Mr. Solomon Prana from the Vegetarian Association of Ghana.

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) appeared before the Human Rights Court in Accra on Wednesday October 31st 2018, for the continuation of the case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, against the commercialisation of genetically modified crops (GM crops) in Ghana.

In the process of application for directions to finally set issues for trial, the defendants raised issues dealing with the jurisdiction of the High Court to deliberate on the matter. They cited Section 26 of the Biosafety Act 831 which establishes a tribunal for resolving issues relating to bio-engineering and technology. The court consequently ordered the counsels for the plaintiffs to make written submissions in relation to their positions on the issue of jurisdiction.

The hearing was thus adjourned to November 16th at 11 am.

This is not the first time that the case has encountered such a hurdle. On Monday March 19, 2018, the counsel for the fifth defendants, Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisherfolk (GNAFF), informed the court of a motion of stay of proceedings filed in the High Court. Their lawyers claimed that the ruling that dismissed the injunction in 2015 had determined the matter. Their appeal was dismissed on March 28th by the Court of Appeal.

The Accra Human Rights High Court had earlier on March 3, 2015, placed an injunction on the commercialisation of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in Ghana, pending the adjudication of the case, but this was dismissed on Thursday, 29th October, 2015, when the court, presided over by Justice Dennis Adjei, ruled in favour of the defendants, and lifted the interlocutory injunction.

An appeal against the ruling has since been filed by FSG at the Court of Appeal on November 12, 2015. Next month would be three years and we are still waiting for the case to be called at the Court of Appeal.

However, even in the ruling against FSG, there is a grain of victory! The Judge stated in his ruling that: “The law is that, GMOs should be differentiated from organic or natural cause, and should be labelled to enable consumers know the products to take an informed decision”.

So FSG, in addition to the hot pursuit of the purveyors of GMOs in our courts, is also embarking on a national campaign for the mandatory labelling of GMOs in Ghana, “to enable consumers”, as the judge puts it, “know the products to take an informed decision”. We invite all Ghanaians who care about the food their eat, to kindly join us in this campaign.

The global debate on the issue of GMOs makes this a historic and landmark case concerning biotechnology in Ghana and the final determination will have long lasting impact on national policy regarding the introduction of GMOs into our food chain. We shall overcome!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana