Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

FSG WhatsApp Group (Join Us! https://t.co/z94v8Y74Fy)

June 12, 2018
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Join Us! Here: https://t.co/z94v8Y74Fy

1. We’ve established these House Rules for your safety and to keep the FSG News & Updates Platform a healthy environment for discussion.

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Communications Department
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Email: info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
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HANDS OFF VENEZUELA! 
In Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution!

May 19, 2018
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Statement of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!  In Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution!

HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!
In Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution!

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) marching in the streets of Accra, on this day, Saturday, 19 May, 2018,

Strongly express solidarity with the good people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela who will be holding presidential elections tomorrow, Sunday May 20.

Reject and condemn the defamatory campaigns, threats of economic sanctions, and even of a possible military intervention by the United States in the lead up to the elections.

Reaffirm the conviction that the Presidential elections in Venezuela tomorrow, and the candidacy of Nicolas Maduro for the Frente Amplio de la Patria, (the Broad Front of the Homeland) represent one of the most important resistance struggles against imperialism in the world today.

Call for international solidarity with the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and their right to freely decide their own future, in peace and against imperialist violence and aggressive propaganda from the mainstream media, as they vote tomorrow.

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

May 16, 2018
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March Against Monsanto Accra Saturday 19th May

This year's international March Against Monsanto falls on Saturday, 19th May, 2018.

This year’s international March Against Monsanto falls on Saturday, 19th May, 2018.

This year’s international March Against Monsanto falls on Saturday, 19th May, 2018.

Food Sovereignty Ghana and March Against Monsanto – Accra, have the pleasure to invite you to a march through some of the principal streets of Accra to highlight our desire for public awareness and participation in decisions regarding biotechnology in agriculture.

We strongly believe that such decisions must not be left in the hands of multi-national corporations and their local enablers using their GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, and seed monopoly lobby to influence the outcome of government policy.

We shall be assembling at Sergeant Adjetey bus stop near Artistes Alliance (La). The march begins at 7.30am. The route of the march, as notified to the police, is as follows: Starting point: Sergeant Adjetey bus stop, marching progresses through La Taxi rank – La market – Note: Education for community – Nyo Tsaana Road/La Kpanaa Road – Agus Road – New Life Road/Aklowa House Road – Kpogas Junction/Trade Fair Junction – End point: Trade Fair car parking area (Presidential Drive Way).

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.

Advocates therefore support mandatory labelling laws for food made from GMOs. We in Ghana however 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.

Since our formation in 2013, FSG has marked the day without fail. The primary purpose of the march is to draw attention to our demands of the day. This year’s march comes at a time where we are yet to see the mandatory labelling of GM foods, even though a court ruling clearly told us 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.”

We still seem to live in a situation where our courts say there is a law, but that law appears nowhere to be found!

We are marching because even after overwhelmingly exposing the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (PBB), as too rigid, unsuitable, and illegitimate, 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. These unpatriotic forces are still calling for the passage of the ill-structured Plant Breeders’ Bill without any changes!

As we prepare to march, FSG wishes to take the opportunity to salute Richard Mosiah Ababa Allen, a great comrade who embarked on a nationwide walk in January 2018. So far he has covered seven out of the ten regions in Ghana. Starting out in the Volta region he proceeded north toward Kete Krachi entering the Northern Region and continuing onto Upper East and then Upper

West. In April, he toured Brong Ahafo and he is currently in the Ashanti region. He is expected to arrive in Accra by the end of June. Richard, a free-lance researcher on Human Behaviour continues to engage a wide spectrum of Ghanaian citizens, in championing and advocating for unity and progress for our nation, through this Educational Awareness Walk dubbed the Visitation Walk. The sole intention is to walk through the whole of Ghana to raise a high awareness on important agricultural issues which have not received much attention on the national agenda. In this effort he has collaborated with Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) who have been at the forefront of defending Ghana and her food and agricultural systems against the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

We are also marching to celebrate the victories we have chalked in our advocacy in the course of the year. The most notable being the systematic defeat of the pro-GMO lobby in all debate encounters with them.

We are marching because the passionate support from an overwhelming number of Ghanaians from various backgrounds tells us that history is on our side, and agroecology, not biotechnology, is the way forward!

Please, join us on Saturday May 19th to March Against Monsanto and Bayer, as we call for sustainable policy-making in our Agriculture!

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/Fo

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.

April 12, 2018
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Food Sovereignty Ghana defends position at seminar on GMO’s!

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.

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.


Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) on Tuesday morning April 10 participated in a seminar organised by the National Bio Safety Authority (NBA) at the Teachers Hall in Accra.  The seminar which was under the theme: “Can Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) contribute to the socio-economic development of Ghana?” drew stakeholders from both sides of the GMO controversy. 

Members of the panel included scientists, a socio-economist, an agronomist as well as representation from civil society.  Speaking in favour of the motion, Dr Marian Quain of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was the first to make her presentation.  She spoke on the science behind the creation of GMOs and proposed their use to tackle some of the challenges facing the nation. However she was clear that GMOs did not represent the panacea to solve all of Ghana’s agricultural problems.

FSG was next to present, citing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of GMO’s among the scientific community as an early warning sign for Ghana to tread cautiously with regards to policy formulation. FSG stressed that the world was witnessing a phenomenal rise in demand for organic fresh produce and expressed concern at the lack of attention from policy makers to guide Ghana’s agricultural direction towards meeting the needs of these growing and lucrative markets. 

The fact that the boll worm in the USA is already documented to have developed resistance to GM maize as well as the resistance of the pink boll worm in India to GM cotton all point to a technology which despite its huge financial costs ultimately does not deliver on promises.  FSG used the example of the GM cotton experience in Burkina Faso and the fact that the shorter length of fibre which was expressed as a result of the genetic engineering did not suit the needs of the industry and thus reflected the concerns about unknown outcomes of genetic engineering.  One member of the audience questioned the competence of the technology if there was an inability for risk assessments in Burkina Faso to highlight some of these unfavourable outcomes achieved.The General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) Mr Edward Karaweh made a solid case on how GMOs would harm agriculture and farmers livelihoods rather than solving problems. He cited the lack of access to land, credit, roads, post-harvest and irrigation technology as the real issues facing agriculture and presented convincing arguments to the audience that GMOs would not tackle these problems.  He said “they have lost the battle trying to link GMO to socioeconomic development of Ghana. GMO is not even one, not to talk about being an important solution to our development needs”Dr Gloria Addico, Head of the Technical division at the NBA spoke on the role of the regulator in managing issues on the biotechnological front.  There was a very robust question and answer session after all presentations were made where the audience sought further clarity.
One question posed was how consumers in Ghana could identify and differentiate GMO produce from natural ones.  This question led to a discussion on labelling and FSG insisted that the Food and Drugs Authority should ensure a mandatory labelling regime for all foods that may contain GMO in order to afford discerning consumers the right to choose.As Mr. Edward Kerewe put it at the end of the debate, “They have lost the battle trying to link GMO to socioeconomic development of Ghana. GMO is not even one, not to talk about being important solution to our development needs.”

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 28, 2018
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Appeals Court dismisses motion in favour of Food Sovereignty Ghana  

Accra, Wednesday, 28th March.
An Appeals Court in Accra has dismissed a motion filled by the counsel for the fifth defendants, the Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisherfolk (GNAFF) for a stay of proceedings.
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) appeared before the Appeal Court today March 28th to hear a motion brought forward by the Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisherfolk (GNAFF) to effect a stay of proceedings in the Human Rights High Court concerning the case against the commercial release of GM cowpeas and GM rice, initiated on November 23, 2017 by FSG.
It would be recalled that the case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, was called on Monday March 19, 2018. This was meant to continue with proceedings in the case originally brought before it on November 23, 2017 to begin trial of the substantive issues in the case, as the case has seen some three years without action.
The 5th Defendant stated at the Court of Appeal that an earlier interlocutory ruling has technically ended the GMO suit and when so declared at the appeal, the matter ends. And prayed for an order for stay of proceedings to be granted for the High Court to stop hearing the suit.
In a passionate delivery, Plaintiffs Counsel, Lawyer Tetteh Wayoe, opposed on the solid ground that NOT ALL reliefs raised were determined by the interlocutory ruling so the matter is not determined by that ruling! He also sought damages of five thousand cedis from the GNAFF however the court eventually awarded FSG damages of two thousand cedis.
The court ruled dismissing the motion and cited the fact that there was no special circumstance that had arisen for such a stay to be granted. The court found no grounds in GNAFF’s assertion that the ruling on the 2015 injunction had determined the entire suit. The court recognized that other reliefs had been sought by the plaintiffs which were still outstanding for determination in the High Court as prayed by Plaintiffs counsel.
The parties are to return to Human Rights High Court of Accra on April 13th at 11 am for the issues raised by the parties to be set down for trial in this historic and landmark case concerning biotechnology in Ghana.
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

SAM_2047

March 21, 2018
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Court Case On GMO Commercialisation Goes To Appeal Court

The Accra Human Rights High Court hearing the suit against the commercialisation of GMOs has ruled that the parties go for the determination of the motion to stay proceedings at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, 28th March. 

The case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, Suit No. HRCM 43/15 was called on Monday March 19, 2018.  This was meant to continue with proceedings in the case originally brought before it on November 23, 2017.

However, after the acknowledgement and presence of all legal representatives of the relevant parties in the case, the counsel for the fifth defendants, the Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisherfolk (GNAFF),  Maame Sarpong who stood in for Bright  Okyere Adjekum  informed the court that they had filed a motion of stay of proceedings in the High Court pending an appeal that has been made by FSG on an earlier dismissal of an injunction sought on the release of genetically modified cowpeas and rice onto the Ghanaian market.

Their lawyers present that the ruling that dismissed the injunction in 2015 has determined the matter.  On March 28th all parties are to appear in the Court of Appeal to hear the motion to stay proceeding at the High Court.  The court further ordered all parties to return to the Human Rights High Court on April 13th at 11 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

March 2, 2018
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“Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” – CSOs Tell Parliament

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest Loss

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest LossRepresentatives from various civil society organisations have re-iterated their call for a revision of the “UPOV-compliant” Plant Breeders Bill. They called for a “sui generis” plant variety protection system as demanded under the WTO TRIPS Agreement.

The representatives included Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), General Agricultural Workers Union – GAWU of TUC Ghana,  Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

According to Ms. Victoria Adongo, Executive Director of PFAG, “we had a fruitful engagement with members of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs and Environment, Science and Technology Committees of parliament to discuss food security issues bothering on Post Harvest Losses, Plant Breeders Bill and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)”.

The hearing offered the opportunity for the CSOs to restate their case against GMOs and to dispel the misinformation that followed the petitions. Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour, Director of Communications of FSG, took the MPs through the UPOV Convention, The WTO TRIPPS Agreement.  In addressing them, he was clear on the need for the Select Committee to address the original issues raised by the coalition four years ago, citing clause 23 and 58 as examples of the inappropriate nature of the proposed bill and urged Parliament to ensure that the interest of Ghana’s farmers and her bio diversity were not compromised in the bill.

Mr. Andoh Baffour also reminded the lawmakers to ensure that any loopholes in the proposed bill that may facilitate biopiracy of Ghana’s national flora and fauna should be addressed. To this end he called for a mandatory need to declare the source of the genetic materials used in the research work as is best practice worldwide.  Mr. Baffour used the opportunity to remind the august body that there was no mention of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in the entire issues raised by the coalition and asked all stakeholders to cease the pander to the deliberately created perception that the opposition to the bill was based on GMO.

In response to the concerns raised by the coalition the Chairperson of the Committee Hon. Kyeremanteng Agyarko who is also the MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, assured the meeting that the relevant areas of concern raised had been acknowledged and would be given the necessary attention.  He expressed regret that the issues raised had taken so long to resolve however reminded members that a new parliament had been sworn in since the last consultations and assured all stakeholders involved the opportunity to continue to contribute constructively in the collective interest of Ghana.

Below is the full text of a summary of the position paper on the Plant Breeders’ Bill read to the Committee by Ms. Victoria Adongo on behalf of the coalition:

CSO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill (2013)

Parliamentary Hearing, Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Parliament House, Accra, 27th February, 2018.

We are most grateful for the opportunity granted us to humbly present to you our views on the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (2013).

UPOV-1991 COMPLIANCE:

The WTO agreement clearly states that contracting parties have a right to develop their own sui generis plant variety protection (pvp) laws. Even though this is acknowledged in the memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill, it proceeds to opt for the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) without any explanation, as to why the government made such a choice. It provides no evidence, or impact assessments of the necessity for adopting such a regime.

The Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill only abruptly announces:

“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″.

It gives no justification for such a choice which a sui generis pvp cannot do.

Meanwhile several prominent Ghanaian experts in the field have dared to raise their voices against the passage of the UPOV-compliant Bill such as the critique by Nana S. K. B. Asante. [1] As eloquently expressed by a study by the German Government on the UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks: it calls for the harmonising of the goals and obligations from different treaties while implementing PVP law.

“Goals and obligations from different international treaties, such as TRIPS, ITPGRFA and ICESCR, need to be harmonised if a country sets out to develop a national PVP law. The TRIPS agreement as such leaves sufficient discretion to governments to design PVP laws in such a way that the obligations of other treaties are addressed”. [2]

The 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) offers a rigid model inappropriate for developing countries. It ignores the characteristics of the seed supply systems in those countries, where farmers produce a large part of the seeds and other propagating material, and limits farmers’ traditional practices of saving, exchanging and selling plant materials. These activities are crucial to preserving a diversified supply of seeds, adapted to local conditions and a changing environment as well as support farmers’ livelihoods. [3]

“SUI GENERIS” PVP:

Under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, gives Ghana the right to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. (Sui generis means a “unique” system of protection). This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection. UPOV 1991, on the other hand, is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection.

The decision to adopt UPOV is not in the interest of a developing country like Ghana. The giant multinational corporations waiting in the wings stand to benefit at our expense. It is also important to note that African countries in concert with other developing countries ensured during the TRIPS negotiations that a developing economy like Ghana would not be short-changed by giant corporate interests. The inclusion of the sui generis clause in the WTO negotiations was an important victory won by the so-called third world countries like Ghana in the complex web of intellectual property rights protection.

To consolidate the victory won at the WTO, the African Union developed a model that carefully took into consideration, the legitimate rights of the plant breeder, as well as those of our farmers.[4] It is thus truly pathetic that the report submitted to Parliament made no mention of this, nor referenced even the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITGRFA). Ghana is a signatory to the ITGRFA, and is under an international obligation to respect the rights of farmers.

PUBLICATION OF CONSULTATIONS:

The only reason given for the withdrawal of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, which was at the Consideration Stage was, in the words of the former Speaker of the House, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”. [5] It therefore behoves Parliament, in the interest of transparency, especially given the controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders’ Bill, to publish a cogent report on the consultations over the Plant Breeders’ Bill, detailing the petitions, the basis of opposition to the Bill, and generally provide a public account before any decision to proceed with the Bill in its current form.

We would also like to see in the report, what justification, if any, lies behind the inclusion of Clause 23 in the Plant Breeders’ Bill which makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana. Even as citizens, our rights are subject to the laws of Ghana, not independent of it. Another pertinent issue raised in the petitions is the call for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of Ghana’s genetic resources. We urgently need answers from Parliament why there is no provision in the Bill requiring the disclosure of origin. This provision is critical for combating biopiracy of our genetic resources.

CONCLUSION:

Over 150 organisations from Africa and around the world have already petitioned Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill. Their petition further buttresses the point we have been making all along:

“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”.[6]

The title of their petition declared, “Ghana’s Plant Breeders’ Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” We are in full agreement with this request, and pray on you to heed the call.

REFERENCES:

[1] A Private Memo From Nana S. K. B. Asante Pointing To Flaws In The Plant Breeders’ Bill Special Report | 31 August 2014 https://t.co/qim3hyRW8k

[2] UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” GIZ: https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf

[3] Plant Variety Protection in Developing Countries: A Tool for Designing a Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System: An Alternative to UPOV 1991 | APBREBES http://www.apbrebes.org/news/new-publication-plant-variety-protection-developing-countries-tool-designing-sui-generis-plant?pk_campaign=too

[4] African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/oau/oau001en.pdf

[5] The Hansard – Official Report for 11th November 2014 Publications | Parliament of Ghana

[6] Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! | Organizations from Africa and around the world petition Ghana’s Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill… 20th February 2014 http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitimacy-it-must-be-revised/

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest Loss

February 27, 2018
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Summary of CSO/FBO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary of

CSO/FBO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill (2013)

Parliamentary Hearing

Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs

Parliament House, Accra, 27th February, 2018.

We are most grateful for the opportunity granted us to humbly present to you our views on the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (2013).

UPOV-1991 COMPLIANCE:

The WTO agreement clearly states that contracting parties have a right to develop their own sui generis plant variety protection (pvp) laws. Even though this is acknowledged in the memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill, it proceeds to opt for the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) without any explanation, as to why the government made such a choice. It provides no evidence, or impact assessments of the necessity for adopting such a regime.

The Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill only abruptly announces:

“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″.

It gives no justification for such a choice which a sui generis pvp cannot do.

Meanwhile several prominent Ghanaian experts in the field have dared to raise their voices against the passage of the UPOV-compliant Bill such as the critique by Nana S. K. B. Asante. [1] As eloquently expressed by a study by the German Government on the UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks: it calls for the harmonising of the goals and obligations from different treaties while implementing PVP law.

“Goals and obligations from different international treaties, such as TRIPS, ITPGRFA and ICESCR, need to be harmonised if a country sets out to develop a national PVP law. The TRIPS agreement as such leaves sufficient discretion to governments to design PVP laws in such a way that the obligations of other treaties are addressed”. [2]

The 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) offers a rigid model inappropriate for developing countries. It ignores the characteristics of the seed supply systems in those countries, where farmers produce a large part of the seeds and other propagating material, and limits farmers’ traditional practices of saving, exchanging and selling plant materials. These activities are crucial to preserving a diversified supply of seeds, adapted to local conditions and a changing environment as well as support farmers’ livelihoods. [3]

“SUI GENERIS” PVP:

Under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, gives Ghana the right to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. (Sui generis means a “unique” system of protection). This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection. UPOV 1991, on the other hand, is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection.

The decision to adopt UPOV is not in the interest of a developing country like Ghana. The giant multinational corporations waiting in the wings stand to benefit at our expense. It is also important to note that African countries in concert with other developing countries ensured during the TRIPS negotiations that a developing economy like Ghana would not be short-changed by giant corporate interests. The inclusion of the sui generis clause in the WTO negotiations was an important victory won by the so-called third world countries like Ghana in the complex web of intellectual property rights protection.

To consolidate the victory won at the WTO, the African Union developed a model that carefully took into consideration, the legitimate rights of the plant breeder, as well as those of our farmers.[4] It is thus truly pathetic that the report submitted to Parliament made no mention of this, nor referenced even the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITGRFA). Ghana is a signatory to the ITGRFA, and is under an international obligation to respect the rights of farmers.

PUBLICATION OF CONSULTATIONS:

The only reason given for the withdrawal of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, which was at the Consideration Stage was, in the words of the former Speaker of the House, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”. [5] It therefore behoves Parliament, in the interest of transparency, especially given the controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders’ Bill, to publish a cogent report on the consultations over the Plant Breeders’ Bill, detailing the petitions, the basis of opposition to the Bill, and generally provide a public account before any decision to proceed with the Bill in its current form.

We would also like to see in the report, what justification, if any, lies behind the inclusion of Clause 23 in the Plant Breeders’ Bill which makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana. Even as citizens, our rights are subject to the laws of Ghana, not independent of it. Another pertinent issue raised in the petitions is the call for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of Ghana’s genetic resources. We urgently need answers from Parliament why there is no provision in the Bill requiring the disclosure of origin. This provision is critical for combating biopiracy of our genetic resources.

CONCLUSION:

Over 150 organisations from Africa and around the world have already petitioned Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill. Their petition further buttresses the point we have been making all along:

“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”.[6]

The title of their petition declared, “Ghana’s Plant Breeders’ Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” We are in full agreement with this request, and pray on you to heed the call.

REFERENCES:

[1] A Private Memo From Nana S. K. B. Asante Pointing To Flaws In The Plant Breeders’ Bill Special Report | 31 August 2014 https://t.co/qim3hyRW8k

[2] UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” GIZ: https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf

[3] Plant Variety Protection in Developing Countries: A Tool for Designing a Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System: An Alternative to UPOV 1991 | APBREBES http://www.apbrebes.org/news/new-publication-plant-variety-protection-developing-countries-tool-designing-sui-generis-plant?pk_campaign=too

[4] African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/oau/oau001en.pdf

[5] The Hansard – Official Report for 11th November 2014 Publications | Parliament of Ghana
[6] Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! | Organizations from Africa and around the world petition Ghana’s Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill… 20th February 2014 http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitimacy-it-must-be-revised/

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2018
by admin
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Ghana’s GM-Lobby Loses Debate On #GMOs!

PHOTO: From Left to right, Edwin Baffour, Communications Director, Food Sovereignty Ghana; Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai,  Agro-Meteorologist,  CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer,  National Bio safety Authority.  Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah,  Deputy Director for Crop Services,  Ministry of Food and Agriculture;  Dr.  Vivian Oduro,  Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I   Institute,  Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; Mr.  Edward Karaweh, General Secretary,  Ghana Agriculture Workers Union.

PHOTO: From Left to right, Edwin Baffour, Communications Director, Food Sovereignty Ghana; Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai, Agro-Meteorologist, CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer, National Bio safety Authority.
Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah, Deputy Director for Crop Services, Ministry of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Vivian Oduro, Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; Mr. Edward Karaweh, General Secretary, Ghana Agriculture Workers Union.

Following a successful debate on the topic, “Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe To Eat?” held at the Obed Asamoah Conference Room of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017, Food Sovereignty Ghana was again invited today, Tuesday, 16th January, to a “Question and Answer Session On Genetically Modified Foods And Its Implications For Ghana”.

Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour, the Director of Communications of Food Sovereignty Ghana, and  Mr.  Edward Karaweh, General Secretary,  Ghana Agriculture Workers Union. represented the opposition to the motion. In favour, were Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai,  Agro-Meteorologist,  CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer,  National Bio safety Authority, Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah,  Deputy Director for Crop Services,  Ministry of Food and Agriculture;  and Dr.  Vivian Oduro,  Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I   Institute,  Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. 

The debate, which was part of the Ministry’s capacity building strategies to enrich the knowledge of officers at the Ministry ended with a show of hands by the audience. When the question was put at the end, only two people in a room of forty seven (47) raised their hands in favour of GMO after four people on the panel spoke in favour of GMO .The first debate was held on December 13, 2018 on the theme “Are GMO foods Safe to eat” and for the record not one person raised their hands in favour of GMO in a room of more than 60 people.