Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

May 30, 2020
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Plant Breeders’ Bill: FSG Meeting with Government

FSG MEETING WITH THE REGISTRAR GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT & MINISTRY OF FOOD & AGRICULTURE ON THE CALL FOR AMENDMENTS TO THE PLANT BREEDERS BILL,

 PART ONE (1)https://facebook.com/watch/live/?v=174423600665366…  

 PART TWO (2): https://facebook.com/watch/live/?v=174423600665366…  

YouTubeFSG Meeting with Government on the Plant Breeders’ Bill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYrnjacmGfU&t=9s

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May 29, 2020
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FSG Is Meeting With Government On The Plant Breeders’ Bill

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) is meeting with the government this Friday, 29th May 2020, on the Plant Breeders’ Bill. This follows an invitation by the Registrar-General for meeting “as a follow-up to the workshop on Ghana’s Plant Breeders’ Bill which was held on 26th and 27th February, 2020 in Accra, where your organisation raised some issues”.

The issues we raised then were calls on the government to be inclusive in their ongoing consultations on the reintroduction of the Plant Breeders’ Bill. We condemned the fact that even though several organisations and institutions wrote petitions to the Speaker of Parliament, the government appeared to have decided to ignore these petitions and so far, no conscious attempts have even been made to get their side of the story. FSG found it regrettable that, of the numerous groups that petitioned the Speaker on the bill, only three were invited to the workshop organised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Registrar-General’s Department.

Protest Statement
Indeed, the attention of FSG was drawn in the evening of Wednesday, 26th February, 2020, to an ongoing two-day “National Workshop on the Plant Breeders’ Bill”, in Accra organized by the Registrar General’s Department where the reviewed Plant Breeders’ Bill was expected to be presented. FSG only heard of this at the end of the first day. No formal invitation was ever extended, but were informed by a participant that “the organisers said FSG was welcome”. FSG thus sent observers, Messrs Evans Tawiah, FSG Secretary, and Peterson Agrain Hutrapo Attipoe FSG Director of Operations, who informed the organisers that:

“1. We wish to register our protest against the informal and last minute invitation to such an event of grave national importance. 2. In view of the lack of prior information on the proposed review of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, we shall restrict our participation solely to information gathering. And, 3. We reserve our comments until we have satisfied ourselves as regards the contents of the reviewed bill vis-a-vis the demands in our petition forwarded to the Speaker of Parliament.”

It emerged however, at the workshop that it was not about a “review” of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, but what they called, a sensitisation programme. The message was that that none of the objections raised against the original bill had been taken into consideration, since these objections were sent to the NDC Administration of former President Mahama, and we now have the NPP Administration of President Akufo Addo.

Prof. Hans Adu Daapah, the moderator, actually said, “Food Sovereignty Ghana must resubmit your memo to Parliament… The Constitution of this country is such that when the term of the Parliament ends, everything ends.  You have presented something to the previous Parliament, and you will have to reintroduce yourselves.” Apparently, the new Cabinet has therefore taken the decision to re-introduce the original bill without any changes, hence the need for “sensitisation”.

Non-Inclusive Consultations
Since no one had apparently bothered to take a look at the Petitions against the Plant Breeders’ Bill from various stakeholder groups in Ghana, the organisers clearly had no idea what aggrieved groups, CSOs, FBOs, let alone, to invite. In all there were around 30 participants from “selected from key institutions”, but apart from one or two, hardly anyone invited had sent a petition to the previous government on the same bill.

Hence, as one would expect, most of the “invitees” from institutions and organisations such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Alliance for Science Ghana, Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, National Seed Traders Association of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), were singing from the same hymn sheet.

After FSG reading portions of our objections and suggestions to some of the clauses of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, we are asked to “give in” because we are a “minority” who are trying “to hold the whole country down.” Whilst FSG was stopped from reading the extracts form our previous petition to highlight our concerns on biopiracy, benefit sharing of Ghana’s genetic resources, and the criminalisation of farmers, with a request to us to send our petition by email, we also heard contradictory remarks such as all the objections to the Plant Breeders’ Bill had been already addressed by the previous government.

The workshop itself was long on the need to protect the intellectual property rights of the plant breeder, and short on the plant variety protection models fit for purpose. The discussions covered everything from intellectual property, patents, copyright law, trade marks, industrial design, etc, but nothing on the various models of plant variety protection and why the government is insisting on UPOV 91 Convention. As it turned out, the sensitisation workshop ended with the FSG very much underwhelmed and unsensitised.

FSG Demands
“We have already pointed out that Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Ghana has full flexibility under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs.

This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection (PVP). This is what many developing countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India have done. The African Union Ministers have also recommended a unique Model Law for Plant Variety Protection.
FSG has never said that plant breeders must not be protected. What we want is a system of protection that guarantees the rights of the plant breeder as well as the farmer. So far, neither government nor Parliament has accounted for the basis for the opting for UPOV 91. In the Memorandum to the Bill, we are only informed about the decision without any justifications.

It is a well-established position of FSG that, “Ghana can protect plant breeder rights without necessarily opting for UPOV 91. The Bill is modelled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection (PVP). It is worth noting that today out of the 71 UPOV members, only a fraction – about 22 developing countries are members of UPOV. Most of these developing countries (e.g. Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa) and even some developed countries (e.g. Norway) are not members of UPOV 1991 but rather UPOV 1978, which is a far more flexible regime.” See: Replace Plant Breeders’ Bill With A “Sui Generis” PVP System.

Live coverage
FSG shall facilitate a live coverage of the entire encounter, in order to promote public awareness and participation in such an important debate. The meeting organisers understandably restricted the number of participants to only “a maximum of fifteen (15) members of your organisation”. In the era of Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing, this has become the norm. However, thankfully, more and more activities are also going online, where even more people can now participate.

This is also important because such recordings serve as public records for future references in case of misrepresentations afterwards. Previous experience of distortions of our meeting with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, in 2013, which even surfaced during the last workshop. We never get official transcripts of our meetings with government officials, but some politicians keep misrepresenting us to suit their own agenda. Hence, it is our hope that a live coverage is what we need to ensure transparency, probity, and accountability.

We shall be going live Facebook on Friday, 29th May, 2020, at 10:00 GMT.

Watch: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana/live/

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact:
Phone: +233 207973808

 

February 27, 2020
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BREAKING NEWS! #PlantBreedersBill: National Workshop on the Plant Breeders Bill is currently underway…

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BREAKING NEWS! #PlantBreedersBill
A two-day National Workshop on the Plant Breeders Bill is currently underway, in Accra organized by the Registrar General’s Department where the reviewed Plant Breeders’ Bill is expected to be presented.
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) only heard of it at the end of the first day! No formal invitation was extended, but were informed by a participant that the organisers say we were welcome. FSG has sent observers.
Stay tuned!

February 6, 2020
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Ghana’s first GMO Court Case adjourned to February 18

Time: 1pm, at

Venue: Accra Human Rights Court, Court Room 2, Second Floor, The Law Courts Complex, John Evans Atta Mills High St, Accra: https://t.co/3SpShcmiAg?amp=1

SUIT NO. HRC/43/15: Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, against the commercialisation of genetically modified crops (GM crops) in Ghana.

February 1, 2020
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Ghana’s first GMO Court Case adjourned to February 18

FSG Court Case1

Front row L-R Ras Zewu, Edwin Baffour, George Tetteh Wayoe, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Bright Awketey.
Back row L-R Pascal Kudiabor (PFAG), Ras Aswad, Jonathan Welberg(Assistant to Bright)

January 20, 2020
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Ghana’s GMO Court Case continues on 30th January 2020

The case involving the commercial release of the first batch of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in three crops in Ghana, is scheduled for hearing at the Accra Human Rights Court on Thursday, 30th January, 2020.

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) and three others are suing the government of Ghana represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the National Biosafety Authority and the Attorney-General’s Department.

It would be recalled that attempts to throw out this case in which one of the defendants sought to challenge a High Court ruling on the court’s jurisdiction to hear a petition brought before it, was rejected by the Supreme Court in a ruling which upheld the fact that the Human Rights High Court did have proper jurisdiction that it applied in ruling on the case brought before it by the four plaintiffs.

The hearing is expected to be one of case management and ensuring that all due processes have been properly filed for the substantive case to proceed. Among the witnesses representing FSG are two independent internationally recognised experts.

This comes at a time when a false narrative is being created in the minds of the Ghanaian public and the international community to create the impression that the government has abandoned the implementation of its policy to impose GMOs on Ghanaians.

The continuation of the case, in which the representatives of the government continue to defend the commercial release of Bt cowpeas, GM rice, as well as Bt cotton, clearly show that the recent utterances of the Minister of Food and Agriculture is nothing but a lot of hot air, possibly occasioned by the Harmattan season, or a deliberate attempt at deceiving Ghanaians for 2020 election. Whatever the motivations may be, it has the effect of fooling the people of Ghana into thinking that all is well, when the reality is far different.

Even though these GMO crops look exactly like their non-GMO counterparts, the scientists behind these experiments do not want them labelled. Apart from the fact that they fear people may not buy them if they are labelled, they also fear traceability and legal liability for any of the possible untoward consequences for consumers should anything happen to them after consumption of the GMO versions of these foods. FSG has long submitted its position paper on the labelling of food and feed containing GMO to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and have maintained the position that Ghana should have a mandatory labelling regime and not a voluntary one as it seems regulators are considering.

A “former Principal Investigator at SARI and a consultant to the Bt cowpea project, was reported to have told the journalists, who also visited the site for the confined Bt cowpea trials at Nyankpala, that the Bt cowpea would not look different from the conventional ‘Songotra’ that farmers know already and are planting currently”. As at the time of going to court in 2015, the Bt cowpea had not been commercialised anywhere in the world. This was the first time that human beings were being expected to consume them. And Ghanaians had been chosen to be guinea pigs for this product without any known epidemiological studies on its effects human health. In Ghana, cowpeas are key ingredients in staple foods like waakye, gari and beans, ripe plantain and beans (also known as “red red”), etc. Therefore, the impact on the health of the population, as a result of the introduction of unlabelled Bt cowpeas in our food chain, could be devastating if care is not taken.


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 6, 2019
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Food Sovereignty Ghana Salutes All Farmers of the Nation!

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) salutes all farmers of the nation on this 35th edition of Farmers Day. Indeed we acknowledge and recognise the unique contribution that farmers make to our daily lives and general welfare.

As a predominantly agrarian society the role of the farmer cannot be underestimated. We especially single out the efforts of the small holder farmers who continue to carry the burden of feeding the nation despite the myriads of challenges they face each day.

With the reality of climate change upon us, FSG wishes to repeat our call for a change in policy in our agriculture to adopt agroecology. This is the most sustainable form of food production for the planet and we fully agree with the United Nations Report on Sustainable d Development which recommends a dynamic shift away from commercial inspired agriculture with its increasingly great resource, harmful inputs, to an agroecological system that takes the well-being of the surrounding environment into consideration. It is instructive to note that as we celebrate this year’s Farmers Day, many farms no longer resemble what they looked like only one generation ago in terms of the organic flora and fauna that coexisted there. The critical role played by organisms such as earthworms and bees is increasingly under threat as the use of dangerous pesticides and herbicides is fast eroding their populations. Farmers no longer find mushrooms or snails on their farms.

Specifically it is important in our role as a civil society organisation working for social justice to highlight the extreme danger posed by our continued use of chemicals like Glyphosate in products such as Roundup, which are now officially considered to be carcinogenic. In a  landmark case in the USA a few months ago a court awarded a couple an unprecedented amount of two billion US dollars for compensation, where the dangerous chemical Glyphosate was found to have caused their cancer.  More worrying, is the court determined that the company Bayer Monsanto was fully aware of the injurious nature of this chemical despite their sustained efforts to promote it.

Indeed this must be a red flag for Ghanaians to realise that the agenda of the agribusiness lobby is to promote the sale of their controversial products despite their negative impact on human health and the environment.

The fact remains that four key areas continue to require the attention of key stakeholders, especially government. These are:
1.  The provision of credit to farmers;
2.  The construction of roads from farm gates to markets;
3. The provision of irrigation to increase yields;
4. The provision of post harvest technology to store produce safely and securely.

A greater attention to the challenges to farmers identified above would be a more productive use of resources, than the adoption of GMOs, which in our opinion, would be heavily misguided.

In order to have a sustainably productive agricultural industry it is of great importance for a national agenda to promote the consumption of locally grown food. While the government’s initiative of Planting for Food and Jobs is an admirable one, FSG calls for greater investment to create a local appetite and market for our produce. Greater political will is required to tackle the position that powerful lobbyists have assumed to influence policy against locally produced food.

We take the opportunity to thank all organisations working towards advancing the welfare of farmers across the nation and encourage Ghanaians, especially policymakers to recognize the important role of sustainability in planning for the industry.

Long Live Ghana’s Farmers!

Ayeekoo!

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

Front row L-R Ras Zewu, Edwin Baffour, George Tetteh Wayoe, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Bright Awketey.
Back row L-R Pascal Kudiabor (PFAG), Ras Aswad, Jonathan Welberg(Assistant to Bright)

July 10, 2019
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Supreme Court rules in favour of Food Sovereignty Ghana!

Front row L-R Ras Zewu, Edwin Baffour, George Tetteh Wayoe, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Bright Awketey. Back row L-R Pascal Kudiabor (PFAG), Ras Aswad, Jonathan Welberg(Assistant to Bright)

Front row L-R Ras Zewu, Edwin Baffour, George Tetteh Wayoe, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Bright Awketey.
Back row L-R Pascal Kudiabor (PFAG), Ras Aswad, Jonathan Welberg(Assistant to Bright)

Accra, July 9, 2019

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) appeared before the Supreme Court today in a case in which one of the defendants sought to challenge a High Court ruling on the court’s jurisdiction to hear a petition brought before it by FSG and three others.

In a decision which did not take long to conclude, the highest court of the land ruled that the Human Rights High Court did have proper jurisdiction that it applied in ruling on the case brought before it by the four plaintiff parties.

The Supreme Court empaneled by five distinguished legal luminaries also wondered why the plaintiffs had not sought to appeal the High Court’s decision which they disagreed with, rather than invoking the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

It would be recalled that in the last appearance before the Human Rights High Court on June 7, Her Ladyship Justice Gifty Agyei Addo ruled in favour of FSG, that the jurisdiction of the Court was properly invoked to seek the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs given that the tribunal of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to which the defendants claimed should have been the proper body to hear such a case had not been properly constituted as required by law as of the time the case was first filed.

In his submission to the court, Counsel for the 1st , 3rd and 4th plaintiffs, George Tetteh Wayoe thanked the court for the decision and said the issue of introducing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) into Ghana’s food chain had serious implications on the human rights of Ghanaians and thus a competent court of jurisdiction as the court had identified in the High Court’s ruling deserved to hear the case.

FSG hails the Supreme Court ruling as a significant and important victory over the local and international GM lobby that has been eager to flout our laws to introduce Bt cowpeas and GM rice with little or no epidemiological studies investigating the potential effects of their consumption on human health.

For example, the Bt cowpea has not yet been commercialized anywhere in the world. This is the first time that human beings are being expected to consume them. In Ghana, cowpeas are found in staple foods like waakye, garri and beans, ripe plantain and beans (also known as “red red”), etc., hence its impact on the health of the population could be devastating if care is not taken.

For us, the case is clearly a case of human health versus corporate profit. Already, Monsanto’s GM maize, event MON810, which contains the same Cry1Ab gene, and has been approved for human and animal consumption in many countries, has been found to have toxic effects in human liver cells during in vitro experiments exposing the protein produced by MON810 which contains the Cry1Ab gene.

We are particularly pleased that the case was not referred to the so-called GMO Tribunal but in a high court, where we hope to receive unbiased attention and judgement. FSG looks forward to vigorously contest the legal obligations of the National Biosafety Authority in terms of risk assessments, socio-economic impact assessments, as well as public awareness and participation at each stage of the decision-making process leading to the authorization of the confined field trials, which are all standard biosafety practice enshrined in law.

We take this opportunity on such an important milestone to repeat our call to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ensure that Ghana develops a mandatory labeling regime for any food or feed containing GMO based ingredients.

The case will continue in the Human Rights High Court on Thursday July 11th, as directed in the last sitting.

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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July 6, 2019
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GMO Case Goes To The Supreme Court

Ghana’s landmark GMO Court case in which Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) is suing the government of Ghana over the commercialization of genetically modified Bt cowpeas and GM rice goes to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the 9th of July, 2019, at 9 am.

This follows a motion filed by one of the defendants invoking the superior jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in an order of certiorari directed at the Registrar of the Human Rights Court, for the purposes of quashing the ruling of the court dated 16th May, 2019 on the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 Ors vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 Ors.

In the last appearance before the august court, Her Ladyship Justice Gifty Agyei Addo ruled in favour of FSG, that the jurisdiction of the Human Rights High Court was properly invoked to seek the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs given that the tribunal of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to which the defendants claimed should have been the proper body to hear such a case had not been properly constituted as required by law as of the time the case was first filed.

The defendants had raised issues dealing with the jurisdiction of the High Court to deliberate on case. They cited Section 26 of the Biosafety Act 831 which establishes a tribunal for resolving issues relating to bio-engineering technology. FSG prayed the court to focus on the illegalities committed by the NBA, which included 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”.

The High Court ruling marked the second victory in a row against the defendants. The first one was an attempt to throw out the case in the Appeals Court on the grounds that the ruling on the interlocutory injunction against the intended release of BT Cowpea and GM Rice until the final determination of the suit, arguing that the court ruling had determined the entire case. This was thrown out by the Appeals Court. The second was challenging the jurisdiction of the court, which just saw the court ruling in favour of the plaintiffs. This is the case that has now been sent to the Supreme Court.

We are confident that the Highest Court in the land will appreciate the intention, meaning and purpose of the law as prescribed in our constitution to protect the interest of citizens where it may apply. It is the contention of FSG that what the Section 26 of the Act, which the defendants are using 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 therefore praying the court to dismiss their petition, as these breaches clearly justify the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Court over the case.

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