It has been a long while we have been asking the NPP Presidential candidate for the 2016 elections to come out clearly on the imposition of GMOs and the Plant Breeders’ Bill on Ghanaians by the NDC-led Administration of President John Mahama.
It appears, despite their differences, the two are in bed on this very controversial issue. The silence of Nana Akufo-Addo is deafening! We are therefore calling on all Ghanaians who eat food and care about the quality of the food they eat, irrespective of party political affiliations, to make their voices heard!
If you are on Twitter, kindly help us get the message across. Each time it is retweeted, he is notified. What we need to get his attention is a Twitter storm!
WORLD FOOD DAY MESSAGE
Wednesday, 15th October, 2014,
As the world celebrates the World Food Day, today, Wednesday, 15th October, 2014, we call on our Parliamentarians to ponder seriously on a major threat facing Ghanaians, our environment, our health, biodiversity, national security, and our sovereignty as a people. This threat is the Plant Breeders Bill, smuggled to Parliament by unseen hands and particularly, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, known by its French acronym, (Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales) as UPOV.
The Agribusiness Trans-National Corporations, TNCs, will not release GMOs into Ghana until the Plant Breeders Bill is in place. That is because the Plant Breeders Bill protects the TNCs’ Intellectual Property Rights, IPR or IP, Intellectual Property. It is the IPRs that will give the TNCs monopoly control over Ghana’s agriculture. Some have called this colonialism by Intellectual Property. The Plant Breeders Bill is a trade agreement that allows the Agribusiness TNCs monopoly control of Ghana’s agriculture through the use of Intellectual Property rights. As Economics Professor Michael Perelman points out (nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/globalization-free-trade-and-food-as-a-strategic-weapon.html):
“… intellectual property agreements … are antithetical to trade, in general, because they grant monopoly status, which allows suppliers to set their own price without competition. … Free trade treaties’ treatment of intellectual property is more accurately described as a transfer of power, rather than a promotion of free trade.”
The PBB will allow corporations to limit what Ghana’s government can do, while Ghana’s government will lose power to limit what corporations can do within Ghana. See the infamous Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill that allows foreign corporations to govern in Ghana, as follows: “A plant breeder right shall be independent of any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”
If Ghana passes the Plant Breeders Bill it gives away control of its agriculture, and gives away its control of its own food supply for nothing but empty promises. The Plant Breeders Bill makes a gift of Ghana’s land and agriculture to the Agribusiness TNCs. With this law, the TNCs can flood Ghana with GMOs and demand Ghana pay the price they set.
Many of Ghana’s politicians and scientists think the PBB will bring investment. All investment it brings will be extractive investment, growing huge monocultures of pesticide-saturated crops for export. Any new seeds developed by Ghanaian scientists will ultimately be owned by the Agribusiness TNCs who have the money, and power under the PBB, to acquire whatever they want, and take the profits out of Ghana.
The Plant Breeders Bill does not consider the rights of indigenous farmers. Indeed whilst it puts the rights of the corporate plant breeder above the laws of Ghana, the rights of the Ghanaian farmer are placed under the discretion of the Minister of Agriculture. The PBB makes it a criminal offence for a farmer to sell, market and or propagate any seed that even through open seed propagation can be found on his farm without authorisation of the breeder.
Already Monsanto, along with Syngenta, Dupont, and other Agribusiness TNCs are buying up African seed companies (theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2592946/big_biotechs_african_seed_takeover.html). Most of the local and regional African seed companies were created by farmers to market seeds developed locally in African countries. The TNCs will claim IPRs for these seeds, pirating their DNA and claiming it as their creation, stealing decades and centuries of work by African farmers in order extract the profits from African countries. Then they will sell the seeds back to the farmers, charging whatever price they wish.
The Plant Breeders Bill permits and encourages Agribusiness TNCs to pirate Ghana’s seeds in this same way, forcing Ghanaians to buy them back. This is why Ghana’s farmers and scientists can never profit from this bill. The Agribusiness TNCs will own and claim all rights to the farmers’ seeds.
“Purveyors of transgenic products claim that GM farming boosts yields and farming incomes by saving on fossil fuels, pesticides, and labor. Another claim arising from this assumption is that GM farming represents a step toward environmental sustainability by decreasing emissions and the use of agricultural chemicals. GM advocates also maintain that these products pose no health risks to either the farmers or consumers.
None of these arguments have held up over extended periods of use or in the face of independent testing. Pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops (by far the most widely used GM varieties) actually lead to an increase in pesticide and herbicide use over time horizons of as little as four years.
Financial gains, which farmers make through increased yields, are offset by increased spending on patented seeds, fertilizer, and herbicides or pesticides, leading to a net decrease in income for all but the largest mega-farms. These higher input costs are especially damaging when small, more marginal farmers experience crop failure. Elevated levels of bankruptcy and consolidation have frequently occurred following the deployment of GM crops.
Perhaps the most pervasive argument for GM crops is centred on the message that these crops are needed to “feed the world.” The underlying assumptions of this argument, however, are simply incorrect. At current levels of global production, there is enough food for every person on earth to have 3,000 calories per day.”
Let Ghana govern Ghana! Save Ghana’s sovereignty and our food supply! Defeat the Plant Breeders Bill!
Parliament still appears determined to defy democracy, defy the will of the Ghanaian people, and pass the Plant Breeders Bill. The Parliament of Ghana, is expected to resume for the Third Meeting of the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament on or around October 21, 2014. The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is expected to present a report on the Petitions on the Plant Breeder’s Bill, 2013, to Parliament. On the basis of this report, Parliament may decide on the next steps. It would be recalled that following numerous petitions submitted to the House, the Speaker referred the matter to the Leadership of the House for consideration and advice.
Thereafter, a press conference was organised at which none of the petitioners were invited. At this press conference attempts were made to fool the public, pretending that the Plant Breeders Bill has nothing to do with GMOs. Various radio interviews, and statements by several members of the committee have systematically sought to bastardize the petitions and to defend the Bill as it stands, without paying any due attention to the fundamental concerns in the petitions.
We have every reason to believe that Parliament is being blackmailed by USAID and the G8/G7 whose intention is to advance the interests of their agribusiness Trans National Corporations, TNCs. Their tool is the G8 New Alliance, G8NA. They clearly do not care about Ghana.
IMF funds are almost certainly being held hostage waiting for passage of the Plant Breeders Bill. We know from the experience of other countries that Millennium Challenge Account payments are tied to GMOs and GMO related bills, such as our Plant Breeders Bill. We know promised money may be withheld from Ghana pending the coerced passage of the bill.
Some MPs claim, or have been misled to believe, that Ghana must pass the UPOV-bill as it stands, to be in compliance with the World Trade Organization, the WTO. This is NOT the case. We do not need to be part of UPOV. Developing countries such as Ghana have full rights under the WTO to pass their own sui generis bill. This simply means that Ghana can design a bill that will meet the specific needs of our country and protect Ghanaian farmers and Ghanaian plant breeders.
Our farmers are the first breeders and their rights come first. It will not help Ghana to protect the interests of Agribusiness corporations which the current Plant Breeders Bill puts above the laws of Ghana. Uganda’s Parliament has listened carefully to its people and recently rejected a similar seed law that is part of the G8 New Alliance, G8NA, agriculture package, as is Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill. Uganda has been under the same USAID agribusiness pressures as Ghana. Is Ghana less a democracy than Uganda?
Some Ghanaian scientists, along with our MPs, think the bill will protect the work of Ghanaian scientists. The intellectual property, IP, protections in the Plant Breeders Bill are unlikely to protect any Ghanaians or Ghanaian interests. The way this works in developed countries is that the corporations buy the scientists’ companies, or fund the research done by the scientists. That will be easier for them to do in Ghana. By contract, the TNCs then own the IP rights to the scientists’ discoveries. Someone will profit, but it won’t be the scientists.
Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill allows anyone in any country in the UN to own the property rights to Ghana’s seeds and operate from outside Ghana, taking with them all profits. Ghanaian farmers and smallholders cannot compete with TNCs in the courts for IP rights to their seeds. Far from protecting farmers, IP rights are likely to raise the cost of seed so it becomes prohibitive, and the minimal protections for farmers as plant breeders in the bill are so weak and ill defined as to be useless.
In India, the price of Bt cotton seeds went up 8000% after GMOs and IP protection was introduced and enforced. The price of patented GMO Bt cotton seeds is already prohibitive for small farmers in Burkina Faso. Farmers will not be able to save and reuse seeds of protected varieties. If the Bill is passed, farmers will not be able to freely save, reuse, share, sell, and exchange seeds as they have done for millennia.
As has happened in other countries, this corporate welfare IP protection will price farmers out of the market, and most will end up landless in the city slums. The poor of Ghana will be subsidizing Trans National Corporations under this bill. Under the Plant Breeders Bill, a TNC can take Ghanaian seeds, make some minimal alteration in the laboratory and claim those seeds as its own, supposedly the creation of the foreign corporation, protected by intellectual property rights.
The infamous Clause 23 of the bill puts the rights of corporations above the laws of Ghana, to be decided by a tribunal of “business-friendly” Judges. Will those corporate judges protect the interests of Ghana’s farmers and scientists? Or will they follow the interests of the corporations who pay their lavish fees. Will the safe and healthy foods we know become a thing of the past due to corporate intellectual property rights?
When it comes to the Plant Breeders Bill you might think Ghana is a one party state. The elites of our political parties all seem intent on passing the Plant Breeders Bill despite public outcry. The Ghanaian people do not want this bill! Is Ghana independent? Is Ghana a democracy? Let your MP know! Let Parliament know what Ghanaians want! Defeat the Plant Breeders Bill!
From all indications, the first item on the agenda of our Parliament, after the recess, in October this year, is going to be the consideration of the infamous Plant Breeders’ Bill, otherwise known all over the world, as the “Monsanto Law”.
What this means is that the Parliamentary sub-committee on Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs will be expected to present a report to the floor of the House on the various petitions received by the House, as directed by the Speaker.
The problem is that judging from the various pronouncements of several MPs on this Committee, the mood is clearly one of going ahead to pass the Bill in spite of the overwhelming public opposition to it. In order to do so, it is expected that the report would attempt to rubbish the concerns raised in these petitions as baseless and unfounded, as they have been doing in interviews and Press Conferences.
A crucial issue we call on the public to keep a keen eye on is the fact of the illegitimacy of the bill itself. This was beautifully highlighted in the petition presented by more than 50 international CSOs and NGOs. A reading of that particular petition shows clearly that the accompanying Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill sent to Parliament by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, was at best, based on false premises, or at worst, designed to mislead the House in favour of the Bill. See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! :
“The Bill is modeled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which 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.
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. In view of this, it is truly unfortunate and even irrational that instead of designing a PVP regime that reflects the agricultural framework and realities of Ghana as some other countries have done (e.g. India, Thailand, Ethiopia), Ghana is choosing to adopt and be bound by UPOV 1991 without any concrete evidence or impact assessment of the necessity and impacts of adopting such a regime.”
In the Memorandum accompanying the Bill, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, dated 28th May, 2013 states:
“The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which resulted from the negotiations of the Uruguay Round requires contracting parties to protect varieties either by patent or by an effective sui generic system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems which is the plant breeders rights system.”
Without any explanation, she goes further to indicate:
“Clause 1 of the Bill defines the scope of application of the Bill. Ghana has opted to apply the requirement for compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961 and subsequently revised on November 10th, 1972, on 23rd October, 1978 and on 19th March, 1991.” See: Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill 2013 Publications | Parliament of Ghana.
Her words are so misleading as to be a lie. UPOV is harmful and unnecessary:
“The Memorandum to the Bill falsely argues that farmers have the right to use protected varieties as a source for further research and breeding activities. In actual fact under the Bill, if a protected variety is used for further breeding and where the variety developed from the protected variety is an essentially derived variety (EDVs), breeders’ rights extend to the EDVs. This concept of EDVs is highly contentious and uncertain. Many advanced developed countries are still grappling with this concept and its implementation. What is or is not an EDV is a question already under extensive litigation and court and arbitration disputes. These types of provision favor multinationals, which have immense financial resources at the expense of farmers and even local breeders. In the US Monsanto has attempted to crush farmers and local breeders in the courts. It is not necessary to include such a provision in the PVP legislation. Many developing countries with successful PVP regimes do not incorporate such a clause in their national legislation.”
The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong further argues in the Memorandum that:
“The Bill seeks to acknowledge the achievements of breeders of new varieties by making available to them an exclusive right on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles. This will promote the growth of the seed industry and safeguard the lawful right and interest of plant breeders. Furthermore, the Bill seeks to regulate the production, offer for sale, sale, marketing and advertisement of new varieties. The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which resulted from the negotiations of the Uruguay Round requires contracting parties to protect varieties either by patent or by an effective sui generic system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems which is the plant breeders rights system. The plant breeder rights system permits farmers to save and replant seed and provides them with the right to use protected varieties as a source of further research and breeding activities.”
This is a blatant falsehood! The Ministry of Justice is rushing to impose UPOV on Ghana without any justification and on the basis of lies. Mrs Grace Ishaque, Principal State Attorney with Ministry of Justice in Ghana seems to be the main focal point on the matter. She represented Ghana at the ARIPO meeting in Malawi, where she told those campaigning against UPOV that “it is the farmers that want Ghana to implement UPOV 1991″! Anyone who knows any farmers knows that is a lie.
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. Sui generis means “unique to Ghana” system of protection. A sui generis system will address what Ghanaian farmers actually need now, not what megacorporations want to impose on Ghana. This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection (PVP), UPOV is rigidly hostile to small farmers and entirely unnecessary. Ghana needs its own sui generis system tailored to the needs of our farmers and plant breeders.
On 31st August, 2014, former president John Agyekum Kufuor was visibly missing in action during the New Patriotic Party’s (NPPs) Special Delegates’ Congress to prune the number of the party’s presidential candidates from seven to five. He was on his way attending the 2014 African Green Revolution Forum, 01-04 September 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The former President would have the whole world to believe that his absence at the Engineering Auditorium at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he was supposed to cast his vote was for what his spokesperson, Mr. Frank Agyekum called “strategic reasons”.
The truth of the matter is that he was physically present at Addis Ababa, where a substantial per diem was awaiting him. Instead of saying the truth, he preferred to put a spin on his absence by claiming neutrality, Mr. Frank Agyekum, spokesperson for the former President, had stated that his boss took the position not to vote because he sees himself as a statesman.
“He is part of the process but he is not voting because he sees himself as an elder statesman on both national and party affairs. The process and the tensions in the NPP as it is today, it is best if he doesn’t show his support for one candidate or the other.”
Mr. Kufour was however seen in the Ethiopian capital campaigning for the introduction of GM foods in Africa, under guise of what he called “climate-smart agriculture”! According to the ex-president, speaking in a panel discussion of the ‘Global Panel on Agriculture for Food Systems and Nutrition’ at the 2014 African Green Revolution Forum, “Agriculture is now under sustained threat from Climate Change and hence the call for Climate-Smart Agriculture,”
Mr. Kufuor’s per diem was paid for by the GMO Green Revolution sponsors. We do not begrudge him for ditching his party and going in pursuit of per diems with a pack of lies. What we take strong exception to is the rather mischievous manner he seeks to return the GMO favour by spouting GMO lies about helping fight climate change and producing larger yields.
Even if the highly questionable claims of increases in food or crop yields, or drought-resistant flood-resistant GM crops were true, the ever increasing amounts of pesticide toxins they contain should prohibit their production or use. Toxic food, regardless of abundance, does not replace safe and edible food.
GMOs contain massive quantities of pesticides, a huge health threat. Close to 100% of all commercial GMO crops are genetically engineered to contain pesticides, or to absorb huge amounts of pesticides without being killed. When we consume the plants, or eat animals that consume the plants, we consume those pesticides that can injure heart, lungs, nerves, digestion, blood, skin, immunity, and sexual function and development.
GMOs, and the legal framework that permits and sustains them, are not business as usual but an orchestrated attempt to control our food, our land, our water. GMOs and their legal framework offer foreign corporations permanent control over our destiny as individuals and as a nation. These laws, the Biosafety Act, Seed Laws, and UPOV laws such as the Plant Breeders Bill are sometimes referred to as weapons of legal destruction. They place corporate interests and greed above the laws of nations. They leave the entire budgets of nations vulnerable to corporate whims.
For 20 years these chemical corporations behind the GM scam have been selling herbicides and pesticides as part of food and doing very little to produce any plant that increases yield, and produced none that are climate-smart. Mr. Kufour continues his legacy of trying to sell Ghana to the west for his own profit, and is willing to destroy Ghana’s agriculture and small farmers in the process. For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Ghana’s MPs, USAID and its contractors, and their GMO tame scientists all remain committed to passing the Plant Breeders Bill and imposing GMOs on Ghanaian farmers and public. They expect the public to unquestioningly respect this outdated science as if it were the word of God. Those who love and appreciate science know that what is known is never final. The known is always the starting point for asking new and more questions, seeking facts, and drawing conclusions based on data driven analysis. The GMO perpetrators hate genuine science, it often gives them information they do not want people to know, information that endangers their profits and monopoly control.
The GMO perpetrators lie to journalists and the public about the Plant Breeders Bill, pretending it will not enable domination of Ghana’s agriculture by foreign corporations. The bill will take away our sovereignty and allow the theft of our Ghanaian seed DNA. They lie about the accomplishments of GMOs, with claims about yields and adapting to climate change. They lie about the benefits to small holder farmers, when all the evidence from countries that have tried GMOs shows us that the high price of the seeds and chemical inputs puts small holder farmers out of business. GMOs yield profits only with large scale mechanized agriculture that throws people out of work and off their land. That is what they plan for Ghana, to sell our land out from under us so it can be used for chemical agriculture that poisons people and the environment.
GMOs were designed by chemical companies and they have only one trick: pesticides. They either contain pesticides in every cell of the plant, or they are designed to absorb massive quantities of applied pesticides without killing the plant. Either way, these pesticides fill the environment and are passed into the food chain.
The GMO hucksters want you to think science tells us we need GMOs. The science supporting GMOs is more than 20 years old. It has been left in the dust by more recent science that demonstrates the importance of diversity, by Agroecology, and by marker assisted breeding that can actually accomplish the things that GMO perpetrators have claimed but failed to accomplish. The big chemical agriculture corporations, led by Monsanto, have done their best to suppress independent research on GMOs, and have viciously attacked any scientist who publishes results not to their liking. The strong resistance (including from governments) to GMOs in Europe is based on science.
The GMO perpetrators are importing GMO seed into Ghana and engaging in field trials without permission or supervision even from the so-called Biosafety Authority, which has not yet been constituted. The Biosafety Authority is the only body that can legally grant that permission, yet there are GMOs already growing in our lands in Ghana!
Food Sovereignty Ghana remains committed to genuine principles of scientific inquiry. We remain committed in our opposition to the Plant Breeders Bill. We remain committed to the preservation of Ghana’s sovereignty and the integrity of our seed DNA which our Parliament so carelessly wishes to give away. We urge all Ghanaians to educate themselves on these issues and let your MP know your thoughts.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!–
Communications Lead, FSG
By Food Sovereignty Ghana, Wednesday, 6th August, 2014
On August 7 the University of Cape Coast is hosting a forum on GMOs. This is not a genuine debate, but a collection of speakers who are all invested in the pro-GMO biotechnology industry through their careers and their education. They are not neutral or objective observers and will present only one side of the debate. They are not interested in finding the truth, unlike genuine scientists, and do not want to allow any opinions but their own.
The organizers will call these forums they organize neutral platforms to facilitate intellectual discourse. They will then present an entirely one sided roster of speakers and censor any actual intellectual debate. If called out on this flagrant prevention of any actual discussion or debate, they behave puzzled and hurt, like they don’t understand why anyone would be annoyed.
The speakers are all closely associated with the donors who are promoting GMOs into Ghana. Donors play the critical role in introducing GMOs into African countries.
“[T]hey fund research projects and pay staff salaries, they create and support regulatory institutions, they dictate research priorities and direction, and they construct and fund promotional campaigns. While the money comes from elsewhere, intellectual allies in [Ghana] carry out most of the work: research scientists and lobbyists become enrolled in the campaign for biotechnology, advancing the interests of donors who fund their salaries and programs. These organic intellectuals serve the interests of the dominant class to which they belong, acting as ideological deputies who facilitate and enable the consolidation of the hegemonic project by generating widespread consent and collapsing society’s general interests with their own … In this way ‘a particular ideology… born in a highly developed country, is disseminated in less developed countries, impinging on the local interplay of combinations’.
While multilateral organizations (such as the World Bank) and philanthropic organizations (such as the Gates Foundation) all play significant roles in sustaining the consensus towards GM, USAID is, by far, the most important actor funding, coordinating, and advancing the interests of the biotechnology bloc.”
The lead organization in this donor driven GMO push is USAID working with the Program for Biosafety Systems, PBS.
“PBS is an IFPRI-managed program (International Food Policy Research Institute), formed in 2002 and funded through USAID’s Collaborative Biotechnology Initiative (CABIO).” They operate in a number of African countries targeted by the biotechnology agribusiness industry as insertion points for GMOs into Africa. Ghana is one of these targeted countries. In Ghana, keep in mind, “USAID is, by far, the most important actor funding, coordinating, and advancing the interests of the biotechnology bloc.” USAID has been tasked by the G8 to promote GMOs into Ghana in the guise of The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Ghana.
According to a new working paper published by the World Policy Forum, the approach and objectives of the G8 New Alliance, G8NA, are highly problematic. The initiative serves as an enforcing mechanism for corporate driven blueprints for agriculture and sidelines national plans and international standards. It is dominated and tailored towards the interests of big corporate actors and is based on a reductionist approach of agricultural “development”. And lastly, the G8NA is poorly institutionalized and disregards fundamental principles of transparency participation and accountability.
We have seen how little the GMO proponents want any participation from citizens, and want no accountability to the public in Ghana with the way legislation such as the Plant Breeders Bill has been pushed through Parliament.
During the G8NA introduction of GMOs into Uganda, when articles in the Uganda press pointed out some of the unpleasant truths about GMOs, at first scientists wrote their own counter articles. Then the “PBS’ Coordinator felt these knee-jerk responses were a mistake, … ‘it becomes a debate and we don’t want that’”.
The same is true in Ghana. The pro-GMO position is they do not want a debate. Remember that, pro-GMO interests do not want debate. Just as independent testing of GMOs is prohibited by contract and therefore by law, pro-GMO interests don’t want debate because it may reveal unpleasant truths.
These forums were set up precisely to avoid any genuine debate. In the three day forum in July sponsored by GAAS only one speaker was not a supporter of GMOs. The rest of the speakers were uniformly in support of GMOs. No speaker discussed the needs of the farmers, and farmers were not permitted to speak. One scientist speaking said no one would want their children to be farmers.
The August 7 forum appears to be more of the same, a one sided presentation masquerading as debate.
Agriculture scientists depend on agribusiness and the donor organizations for their education and project funding. If they don’t support GMOs where will they find employment? The government needs agricultural expertise, but as recent events reveal, the government has no money. So we don’t blame the scientists for clinging to the hope that GMOs give them. That does not change the fact that we need to hear more voices and need a balanced debate.
When will Ghanaian farmers, consumers and citizens be heard!
All quotations come from a study of how genetically modified crops are inserted into African markets, done in Uganda by Matthew A. Schnurr, and published in the:Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 40, 2013
Biotechnology and bio-hegemony in Uganda: Unraveling the social relations underpinning the promotion of genetically modified crops into new African markets pp 639-658
The Economic Justice Network of Ghana (EJN), unequivocally condemns, the decision of the West African leaders to approve the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. This decision, taken at 45th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on July 10 2014 in Accra, runs counter to the long standing views and positions expressed by several groups of stake-holders and ordinary citizens and corroborated by institutions of high repute such as the United Nations and the African Union. Faith-based organisations, trade unions, farmer-based organizations, women groups and private sector players have repeatedly demonstrated over the years that the EPA are against the fundamental developmental needs and imperatives of the economies of West Africa.
Judging by the terms and provisions in the text approved by the Heads of State, EPA will lead to the collapse of the domestic manufacturing and other productive sectors due to undue pressure from the subsidized goods from Europe and loss of revenue from trade taxes. The agreement also commits the Sub-region to have developed, within 6 months of its adoption, a road map and modalities for an agenda of further liberalisation and deregulation of a whole range of areas – such as Services, Investment, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property and even other areas that have never been part of the EPA negotiating agenda, such as Capital Accounts, none of which are required by any international rule or obligation undertaken by the government.
The cumulative effect of all these will be to take away ability of West African governments to deploy the range of policy instruments that are critically needed for development in our Region.
Furthermore the agreement subjects the dynamics of West Africa’s internal regional trade and development, as well as its relationship with the other regions of Africa and the South to the imperatives of its dealing with the European Union. It is sad for the West African leader to make mockery of our own regional integration agenda by this decision.
All these negative consequences inflicted on West Africa are in return for a paltry aid promised by the European Union, as well as an attempt to save a few groups of exporters, when indeed credible alternatives exist which could have addressed the concerns and needs of all stake-holders.
This agreement cannot be accepted by the ordinary men and women of this country who struggle daily in the midst of the precarious economic situation. Citizens should call upon their elected representatives in Parliament to demonstrate due leadership when this inimical agreement is presented to Parliament for ratification.
For further clarification contact the following: Sylvester Bagooro (TWN-Africa) on 0269613132; Edward Kareweh (GAWU) on 0244 529484; Bernard Anaba (ISODEC) on 0244584565; Ibrahim Akalbila (GTLC) on 0509610294;
Issued by the Economic Justice Network, Ghana on 11th July 2014
Dr. Atikpo and OFAB appear brilliant at building straw men to argue against and tear down with much ferocity. Unfortunately they do not address the points made by Dr. Shiva regarding GMOs. They do not address the real dangers of GMOs to Ghana or to the people who live here. Nor do they address the expressed concerns of Ghanaian farmers and citizens. They ignore Ghanaians who care about the sovereignty and independence of our beloved Ghana.
Dr. Atikpo and OFAB claim that GMOs are not toxic. There are two aspects to the question of toxicity. Dr. Atikpo addresses neither of them and instead batters away at her straw man. We know very little about GMOs themselves because the corporations that own the patents do not permit independent testing. What effects GMOs have on our bodies, what effects they may have over time or that may be inherited through us to successive generations, are not known.
The effects GMOs may have on the environment, on the plants, animals, soil, water, air, have not been explored. The evidence we have so far is not reassuring. The corporations that own the GMO patents work very hard to keep them from being researched or becoming known. They are so afraid of potential problems that they do not even want GMO products labelled GMO. This is the true anti-science position.
The extreme and known toxicity of GMOs is due to GMO plants being pesticide plants. GMO plants are saturated with pesticides. GMO crops vastly increase the use of pesticides. Even though the corporations holding GMO patents try to hide and obscure this fact, much is known about the toxic effects of pesticides.
GMO crops are genetically engineered to have pesticide such as Bt in every cell of the plant, or to absorb huge amounts of applied herbicides without being killed. When we consume the plants, or eat animals that consume the plants, we consume quantities of these pesticides that can injure our heart, lungs, organs, nerves, digestion, blood, skin, immunity, and sexual function and development.
When you eat a genetically modified food crop you are eating pesticides. When you wear genetically modified fibre you have toxin resting on your skin.
Research is piling up showing just how deadly these chemical cocktails can be on all the systems of our bodies, on the growing bodies of our children, and on the development of our unborn babies. Allergies, diseases, birth defects, damages to all the organ systems of the body, even autism have been linked to toxic pesticides. GMOs are designed in the laboratory so that they require these chemicals in order to grow. Do you want these chemicals sprayed and spread through Ghana, on our food and on our families? Does your MP want you fed and sprayed with pesticides?
GMOs threaten Ghana’s independence as a nation. Dr. Shiva warned us that GMOs mean seed colonization and seed slavery. This is the massive looming threat that Dr. Atikpo and OFAB completely ignore. The straw men they build and attack so vigorously are constructed to hide this massive danger. Dr. Atikpo and her cronies are dishonest about the toxicity of GMOs, and try to use the toxicity issue to distract our attention away from the GMO threat to our freedom and the GMO theft of our seed DNA heritage.
The Plant Breeders Bill is part of a foreign corporate plan developed by the G8 and engineered by USAID to control all of Ghana’s agriculture. Parliament has met with the Americans and ignored Ghanaians.
So far Ghana’s Presidents and MPs of both the dominant political parties are going along with this plan. The long term intention of these corporations is that every seed that is planted in Ghana will be owned by the giant agribusiness corporations. They will own the intellectual property rights to every seed. Farmers will have to buy seeds from them for whatever they want to charge. In India seed prices have risen as much as 8000%. Farmers who save seeds will have to pay royalties to corporations if they want to plant their saved seeds.
The Agribusiness corporations can take the DNA, the germplasm of Ghana’s seeds into their laboratories, patent the seeds, and then charge Ghanaian farmers for the same seed germplasm Ghanaians have painstakingly developed over decades and centuries. This is biopiracy. Ghanaian seed breeders will be left out. They do not have the resources to compete with the multinational corporations.
The Plant Breeders Bill puts the multinational corporations above the laws of Ghana, making it impossible for Ghana’s government to protect our agricultural wealth from these predators or protect our farmers and citizens from their predations.
With the Plant Breeders Bill enacted, only those seeds produced and sold by foreign corporations will be available to plant. The rich diversity of Ghana’s crops and seeds, our best protection against climate change, will be lost. Our food supply, what we eat and whether we eat, even the use of our water and soil, will be at the mercy of foreign corporations. The decisions of those corporations are based on how much money and resources they can extract from Ghana. Whether we live or die is a matter of indifference to them. That is what Dr. Shiva means by colonization and seed slavery. Do we want colonization and slavery returning to Ghana’s shores?
The only constituencies supporting the Plant Breeders Bill are the MPs that seem determined to pass it regardless of how it impacts Ghana, the American Embassy, and some Ghanaian academics and researchers whose funding is likely to depend on the GMO agribusiness corporations. Based on all their public utterances, Ghana’s MPs have done nothing to address the concerns in the various petitions to Parliament regarding the Plant Breeders Bill. Short of massive national and international attention, they may go ahead and pass the Bill! They appear to us to be completely ignoring Ghana’s best interests and Ghanaian public opinion.
If your MP is thinking of voting for the Plant Breeders Bill, if your MP ignores Ghanaians and votes for the Plant Breeders Bill, you do not want that person representing you in Parliament. When the announcement was made in Parliament during the sitting on Thursday, 19th June, by the 1st Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ebow Burton-Oduro, Hon. Musaka Mubarak, NDC MP for Asawaso, and Majority Chief Whip, rose to his feet to declare that the Committee would present an “oral report”. Is our Parliament trying to tell Ghanaians, they do not even need to properly let us know whether or not the petitions make any sense to them? And if not why? Is our Parliament trying to tell Ghanaians, they do not even need to properly let us know whether they hear the petitions or respect the petitioners?” Contact your MP and tell them to defeat the Plant Breeders Bill!
OUR FOOD UNDER OUR CONTROL!
For Life, The Environment, and Social Justice!