Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

ORGANIC CONCERT2

December 4, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Food Sovereignty Ghana Salutes Ghana’s Farmers!!

12274624_1022069421149213_5844337949330118653_nFood Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) has called on the the authorities to focus more on agroecology rather than biotechnology and patented GM foods with all the associated health, environmental, and socio-economic hazards.

In a statement hailing Ghanaian farmers on Farmers’ Day, FSG, a grass-roots movement of Ghanaians, home and abroad, dedicated to the promotion of food sovereignty in Ghana, called on policy-makers to take urgent steps to ensure the safety and health of Ghanaian farmers in the light of the dangers posed by pesticides that are probably carcinogenic.

FSG also reiterates its call for an indefinite moratorium on the use of GMOs in agriculture, as experts increasingly point to agroecology as the key to the challenges facing our agriculture today: climate change, growing populations to feed, etc..

Below is the full statement:
Food Sovereignty Ghana Salutes Ghana’s Farmers!!

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) wishes to congratulate all farmers and agricultural workers on the occasion of the National Farmer’s Day.  We wish to highlight and recognize the important role that farmers play in contributing to the growth of our national economy.  Approximately sixty percent of the country’s labour force is gainfully employed in agriculture to sustain their livelihood.  It is a fact that farmers provide twenty percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and thus remain a key stakeholder of any development agenda.

FSG wishes to recognize the invaluable contribution to food security and economic development made by many farmers whom in the greatest of logistical challenges persevere to provide much needed local food security.  This year’s National Farmer’s Day celebrations come at a time when Ghana is at a key crossroads regarding the adoption of an agricultural system based on the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Despite a growing trend across the developing world where countries are either completely banning GM crops or imposing strict mandatory labelling regimes in the interest of consumer rights and safety, Ghana is rather proceeding with the adoption of this controversial and novel technology with little transparency or the involvement of the key stakeholders, being farmers, consumers and civil society organizations.  FSG is highly concerned about the speed at which local policy makers in the agricultural sector are proceeding to adopt GM agriculture with its heavy dependency on expensive imported chemicals, its reliance on large energy inputs and its negative impact on the ecological integrity of the environment.

The latest United Nations Report on Sustainable Development cites a need to make a dynamic shift away from large commercial based agriculture to one of more agroecological friendly practices which are in the best interests of a sustainable and viable planet.

FSG finds it vindicating that on Wednesday December 2, 2015 a special double page (40,41) centre-spread titled “ “Danger on Farms – Health Dilemma of pesticide use in modern agriculture” written by Gabriel Ahiabor was featured in Ghana’s widest circulated print medium, the Daily Graphic newspaper.  It drew the attention of the public to the lack of proper education and regulation on the use of pesticides and herbicides among rural farmers.  FSG further calls upon policy makers in the agricultural sector to draw on the negative experiences of farmers in India, Brazil, Argentina and other countries regarding the growth of GM crops to consider the long term implications of handing over ownership of our seed stock into the hands of profit-oriented corporate entities who will then be in a position to charge astronomical prices for seeds for which they will essentially become monopoly suppliers.  It is indeed a key issue of great national security dimensions if such a significant percentage of the population’s livelihood would be determined by foreign owned corporations.

We believe that Ghanaians are entitled to the basic right to know what is in the food we are eating, how that food is produced, its implications on our health, the environment, and socio-economic progress!

In the interest of aligning with the foreign agricultural policies of countries such as the USA, the signing of this controversial protocol in Arusha Tanzania, which ironically took place on the 55th anniversary of our Republic on July 1st 2015 remains largely unknown to most Ghanaians.  There is an obvious and calculated agenda by the government to keep its agenda in the dark without the involvement of the very populace that will consume such proposed GM foods.  FSG is currently seeking to get as many Ghanaians aware of the controversial Arusha Plant Variety Protocol and the need to persuade the legislature against the ratification of such a bill which,like the infamous Plant Breeders’ Bill, would undermine our national interest.  The signing of the protocol on behalf of the Ghanaian people was done by Ghanaian delegates from our Attorney Generals office & Ministry of Justice despite the huge national controversy surrounding a similar bill: the Plant Breeders’ Bill. FSG is not amused by the secrecy surrounding this protocol and call for accountability and transparency. We note with dismay that this is  still unknown to the general populace as it was not reported in the local media.

FSG is currently engaged in the processes of filing an appeal against a ruling by the Humans Right court on Thursday, 29th October, 2015, dismissing an application brought forward by FSG as lead plaintiff, for an interlocutory injunction on the commercialization and release of GM cowpeas and rice.   Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) strongly disagrees.

It is the contention of FSG that Modern Biotechnology is a potent and novel technology that presents unique risks. This means that whatever the perceived benefits seen in advances in biotechnology, they must be developed and used with adequate safety measures for the environment and human health. This is why the international conventions such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regulating its safe use need to be respected, especially as most of these laws have been domesticated in Ghanaian law.

We take this opportunity to reiterate our call for an indefinite moratorium on the use of GMOs in agriculture, as experts increasingly point to agroecology as the key to the challenges facing our agriculture today: climate change, growing populations to feed, etc..

There is a sharply divided opinion in the scientific community, even among molecular biologists, that genetically engineered crops are “safe”. It is in light of all these precautions that FSG calls on all farmers, responsible parents, spiritual leaders, community elders and leaders of political parties to join the people of Ghana who once educated on the issues are overwhelmingly against the agenda to change the agricultural systems that have been used sustainably for millennia by our forebears.  Despite the lack of transparency and engagement by regulators FSG is encouraged by the support of organizations like the Christian Council of Ghana, the Office of the National Chief Imam, The Ghana Muslim Mission, The Religious Bodies Network Against Climate Change (RELBONET), National Catholic Bishops Conference, The Convention People’s Party, the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, The Great Consolidated People’s Party, the Seventh Day Adventist Church among many others.

And together, we stand firmly behind the farmers of Ghana!

Happy Farmers’ Day!
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: Tel: +233 249867238 / +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

Mo Ibrahim

November 19, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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There should be transparency – Mo Ibrahim on GMO

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

November 19, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Crowdfunding Appeal Against Ruling On GMO Case In Ghana

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

We urgently need help! We are doing our best to resist the imposition of GMOs on Ghanaians, but we need help urgently! A day after announcing our intention to appeal, FSG lawyers filed a Notice of Appeal on Thursday, November 12, 2015.

The procedure is that within 14 days the High Court Registry will settle the record of proceedings and transmit same to the Court of Appeal. Then we would be made to file our Statement of Case for the Appeal.

Even though the Court Fee is only 70 Ghana Cedis, the real problem we face is the cost of the documentation. A page costs 10 Ghana Cedis. If you have 100 pages, expect to pay one thousand Cedis!

We have been informed by our Lawyers to make, at least 10,000 cedis ready within 14 days! That goes way up above our current resources. This is an important cause we cannot simply let go by a lack of funds to file!

The battle continues!

We have moved up, we will see what three judges will say on appeal. But in order to do this, we urgently need your help! Please, kindly help us by contributing your widow’s mite to:

ACCOUNT NAME:   Food Sovereignty Ghana,

ACCOUNT NUMBER: 1061000105223301,

BANK NAME:      Agricultural Development Bank,

BRANCH: Accra,

BANK CODE: 18,

SWIFT CODE:  ADNTGHAC

RIDGE CODE: 080106

ADDRESS:  Box 4191, Accra
Elvis Agyei-Manu
Secretary, FSG
Telephone: +233 249 867 238
Samia Nkrumah Addressing Press Conference  At the International Press Centre, Accra,

November 14, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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CPP To Campaign Against GMO Imposition During Election 2016

CPP To Campaign Against GMOs During Election 2016

THE CONVENTION People’s Party (CPP) will make the fight against the release of Genetically Modified Foods one of their topmost issues in the 2016 electioneering campaign, the party has hinted.

According to the CPP, the vision of the founder and the first president of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was to “protect our farmers’ right and to ultimately make sure that, we protect our traditional way of farming.”

The 2016 presidential hopeful of the CPP, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, made this known at a news coneference in Accra put together by Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) on the theme, “An Illegal GMO Imposition on Ghana.”

“…This gives you an idea of the public fear and suspicion of these artificially modified or engineered seeds. Now our party took this decision after consultation with Food Sovereignty Ghana and we were so firm in our conviction with our friends and we decided to join Food Sovereignty in the legal action against or to have an injunction imposed on the release of the GM foods.

“And, I will strongly urge my party to continue to adopt that position. Indeed, we are going to make it an election issue, 2016 will not only be about the economy, or the mismanagement of the economy, but it will also be about Genetically Modified Foods.

“We will challenge any political party, and any leader to tell us why Ghana must introduce genetically modified food. Why Ghana must result to the extreme dangerous, unsafe and unknown way to supposedly increase our yield in production,” she stated.

While showing gratitude to FSG for their leadership role in sensitizing many Ghanaians about the alleged danger of GM foods, the former CPP chair said, “to take a position against the release and the production of genetically modified foods in the country, we are sending a great signal.”

“During my time as the chairperson, of the CPP, I encouraged our party to take a very strong and clear position against the release of genetically modified crops and in fact we joined 51 organizations in petitioning parliament against the plant breeder’s bill that is still before parliament as we speak,” she recounted.

Government she said, “have told our farmers that these foods will increase our yields and that you won’t need much water, but these are all lies, it is not true. They have told our farmers that these seeds will make them richer. It is actually the contrary.

“If we do not resist the bill before parliament, if we do not go back to revise and review the biosafety act 2011 that first introduced GMOs into our country, if we don’t go back and correct these mistakes, our farmers will eventually be forced to abandon our traditional breeding system,” she charges.

“We know that if Ghanaians don’t rise and resist what is happening we are going to lose not only health wise but economically, and politically. So, we are saying we are going to be working and continue working closely with Food Sovereignty Ghana to protect our farmers’ right.”
Source: Daily Heritage

November 12, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Notice of Appeal filed on Court Ruling On GMO Case:

Press Conference1

Within 24 hours of announcing our intention to file an appeal, FSG lawyers have filed it today. Within 14 days the High Court Registry will settle the record of proceedings and transmit same to the Court of Appeal. Then we would be made to file our Statement of Case for the Appeal. We have moved up, we will see what three judges will say on appeal. The battle continues!

Press Conference2

November 10, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Court Ruling On GMO Case: Why We Intend To Appeal

Press Conference1

Food Sovereignty Ghana organized a Press conference today to announce their intention to appeal against the ruling by the Human Rights court, Accra dismissing their application for Interlocutory Injunction on the commercial release of Bt Cowpea and GM rice. Below is the statement:

Court Ruling On GMO Case: Why We Intend To Appeal

FSG Press Conference Statement, Tuesday, 11 November, 2015, at the International Press Centre, Accra.

The Human Rights Court on Thursday, 29th October, 2015, presided over by Justice Dennis Adjei, ruled in favour of the defendants that, “the Defendants have demonstrated they will suffer greater harm if the Application is granted. “I am satisfied that the Applicants have failed to prove that they would suffer an inconvenience if the Application is refused. The Defendants will rather suffer irreparable damage and hardship if they are restrained from performing their statutory function specified under the Biosafety Act.”

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) strongly disagrees. It is our contention that such a conclusion could only be arrived at after the examination of the substantive issues; that the very use of the word “biosafety” implies a certain consensus among the scientific community on the need for a strict adherence to good biosafety practices, indispensable in any national development model.

It is the contention of FSG that Modern Biotechnology is a potent and novel technology that presents unique risks. This means that whatever the perceived benefits seen in advances in biotechnology, they must be developed and used with adequate safety measures for the environment and human health. This is why the international conventions such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regulating its safe use need to be respected, hence our application for the injunction.

We wish to respectfully express our astonishment as to the fact that the defendants’ main ground of opposition to the application for injunction was that they do not intend to release BT Cowpea and GM Rice, which the court never touched on. We respectfully beg to ask, if the Defendants themselves are claiming, that they have no intention of commercial release of these crops, being BT Cowpea and GM Rice, , then where is the “irreparable damage and hardship” that they are expected to suffer be coming from?

Our case for the Interlocutory Injunction is simple. We have noticed certain irregularities and illegalities in the approval for the “confined field trials” and therefore plead that they must not, and cannot, be used as a basis for the granting of approval for the commercial release of same. The “confined field trials” for the Bt cowpeas and the genetically modified rice did little to respect the provisions of Advance Informed Agreement under the Protocols; that advance informed consent includes public awareness and participation in the decision-making processes leading to the intentional release of living modified organisms into the environment.

The Judge states in his ruling that:

“The law is that, GMOs should be differentiated from organic or natural cause, and should be labelled to enable consumers know the products to take an informed decision”.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, FSG strongly disagrees with the Judge on the issue of labelling because Ghana currently does not have a law calling for the labelling of GMOs.

The other fact that we intend to contest is the interpretation of the applicability of the CPB and the CBD. Even assuming that the use and handling of internally generated GMOs have nothing to do with transboundary movements, how can a GMO that has been imported from Australia, not be a transboundary issue? Is that not what we normally call import and export? Is this an internal matter?

We are thus of the firm conviction that the court’s view on transboundary issues is respectfully erroneous because provisions in the Cartagena Protocol were heavily in favour of FSG’s application and these provisions are provided for by the Ghanaian laws on biosafety, ie Act 831, L.I 1887.

The approval for the confined field trials was consequently illegal, and should not form a basis for an application for a commercial release. It is a fact that the Bt cowpea was imported to Ghana from Australia. Here in Ghana, it was subjected to experiments in greenhouses and then the fields. This does not remove it from the fact that it was imported from Australia. So definitely transboundary movements of the GM cowpea did occur, which will trigger the provisions of the Protocol.

This is contained in a report released on Thursday August 13 2015, at The Drill Hall, in Melbourne, Australia, by the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB): “GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets – the political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.” See: http://acbio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GM-Cowpea-report.pdf

The provisions of Articles, 7-10, Article, 15, in the CPB must be complied with and read together with the annexures. Field trials are intentional introductions into the environment. When the defendants imported the GM cowpea from Australia, they did so with the intention of conducting field trials which they did. Whilst Article 6 exempts “contained use”, this exemption does not extend to “confined field trials”. Article 38 makes no room for reservations, and Article 24 demands that transboundary movements of living modified organisms between Parties and non-Parties shall be consistent with the objective of the Protocol.

GMOs in agriculture are products of ‘Modern Biotechnology’ created when the genomes of organisms are transformed through laboratory techniques, including genetically engineered DNA (recombinant) and their direct introduction into cells. The CPD makes it clear that these are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection. This laboratory-based technology requires ‘sceptical’ (doubt, don’t presume safety) analyses in rigorous risk assessment protocols including hazard identification to detect hazards and the potential to cause unintended effects. The CBD therefore, deliberated intensively and extensively about what is required to regulate the safe release of GMOs into the environment (for impacts on health, the environment and SEC (socio-economic considerations)), and keeping in mind the PP (precautionary principle)”.

The Protocol is the first international, legally-binding instrument that provides a far-reaching definition of the application of the Precautionary Principle. The protocol prescribes the Precautionary Principle in Article 10.6 and 11.8, stating:

“Lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects of an LMO on biodiversity, taking into account risks to human health, shall not prevent a Party of import from taking a decision, as appropriate, with regard to the import of the LMO in question, in order to avoid or minimize such potential adverse effects.”

There is a sharply divided opinion in the scientific community, even among molecular biologists, that genetically engineered crops are “safe”. The recent email scandals showing the big influence of the biotechnology industry on the scientific community adds yet another twist of where the scientific consensus would swing to without the corrupting influence of the industry. Hence the only avenue available to them to legally approve any genetically engineered crop must be to follow the Advance Informed Agreement (AIA) Procedure under the Protocol. There is no other way around it and this has not been respected.

The only evidence submitted by the Defendants as to the safety of GMOs was “a fact Sheet developed by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), for its member states (including Ghana) to provide a balanced information on GMOs”. This fact Sheet developed by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), on GMOs, has Section 8, “Are GMOs Safe?” which strongly recommends “continuous assessments based on Codex Alimentarius”.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, this recommendation by the WHO is hardly followed by regulators. For example, the Codex Alimentarius guidance draws special attention to the characterisation of novel RNAs, stating: “Information should be provided on any expressed substances in the recombinant-DNA plant; this should include: A) the gene product(s) (e.g. a protein or an untranslated RNA)” paragraph 32 of (Dhurua, S and Gujar, G. T (2011): Field-evolved resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in the pink Bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), from India. Pest Management Science. Volume 67, Issue 8, pages 898–903, August 2011).

However, this Codex recommendation is rarely if ever applied. When unexpected RNAs derived from mRNA were detected by independent researchers in one of the first significant commercial GM soybean varieties (Jairam Ramesh Report (MoEf) Bt brinjal 2010), the concern raised was that it may be used to create different forms of protein rather than the RNA being a risk per se. In response, the developer of the GM soy said that RNA “is generally recognized as safe (GRAS)”, and thus “the presence of …secondary RNA transcripts themselves raises no safety concern” p. 5 (Monsanto. Additional Characterization andSafety Assessment of the DNA Sequence Flanking the 3’ End of the Functional Insert of Roundup Ready® Soybean Event 40-3-2. Report No. MSL-17632, Monsanto Company, 2002)

One important point to keep in mind and that is rarely spoken is that there is no science that demonstrates GMOs are safe to eat. There is only industry designed testing designed to demonstrate what industry wants us to think. GMOs were approved in the US on the basis of substantial equivalence as claimed by Monsanto here, without any independent testing. That is the model USAID is pushing.
In a situation where the “promoters” of GM technology, also double as the “regulators”, the vigilance of a vibrant civil society is crucial in ensuring its own safety. This is what we are respectfully asking from the courts.
Thank you very much for your kind attention. We may now take questions.

CSbuagYWsAAXMJm

October 29, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Arusha PVP Ratification, Where Are The MPs?

CSbuagYWsAAXMJm

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

October 21, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
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Ruling On Ghana’s GMO landmark Case Set For October 29th.

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

FSG Members and supporters in court on Tuesday, 20th October,

Sir Justice Dennis Adjei the newly appointed judge on the GMO case in Ghana presided over affairs of the high profile case for the first time this morning at the Human Rights Court set the 29th October, 2015 to give his ruling. The court room is one of the newly inaugurated building  of the Judicial Service on John Evans Atta Mills High Street. The session will begin at 9.00am.

Lawyer Tetteh Wayoe legal counsel for lead plaintiffs Food Sovereignty Ghana informed the court of the wide interest both locally and internationally that the case was receiving and stressed the importance of adhering to the international laws and protocols that governed the novel biotechnology which results in the creation of genetically modified organisms.

It is the contention of FSG that Modern Biotechnology is a potent and novel technology that presents unique risks. This means that whatever the perceived benefits seen in the advances in biotechnology, they must be developed and used with adequate safety measures for the environment and human health. This is why the international conventions regulating its safe use need to be respected, hence the application for the injunction.

Lawyer Wayo therefore stressed the point that the human rights and genuine interests of his clients made it a must that the injunction application he sought be granted by the courts for the substantive case to begin.

The legal counsel for the second plaintiffs, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) prayed his Lordship to grant more time to submit an application for supplementary affidavit in support of the interlocutory injunction however this request was not granted citing a delay of proceedings. The Judge moved the motion for the interlocutory injunction and set October 29th 2015 for the date to deliver his ruling.

The upcoming ruling will be a landmark decision since this is the first case of its kind to be brought before a High Court of the land.  With regards to the raging debate on the introduction of GMO’s into the country, this decision will certainly set a precedence for the way forward. Meanwhile, the temporary ban on the release and commercialization of GMO in Ghana as sought by the injunction application continues to remain in force until ruled otherwise.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: Tel: +233 249867238 / +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana