Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

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
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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.

December 15, 2017
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Anuak condemn attempts to delay Karuturi’s exit from Ethiopia

Anywaa Survival Organisation et al | 15 December 2017 |

Omman Oyiré, Village Chief, Ilya, Gambela. (Photo: Jiro Ose)Omman Oyiré, Village Chief, Ilya, Gambela. (Photo: Jiro Ose)

Anuak condemn attempts to delay Karuturi’s exit from Ethiopia

 

Anywaa Survival Organisation, Ethiopian Anuak Development Foundation and Anuak Community Association in North America, with the strong support of international civil society and Anuak community leaders worldwide, call on the governments of Ethiopia and India to cease negotiations with Karuturi Global Ltd and to ensure that the company fully exits Gambela and other parts of Ethiopia. The governments of both these countries must hold the company accountable for the destruction to local peoples’ livelihoods, environment, bio-diversity and eco-system. We stress the importance of land and environment to indigenous peoples as sources of livelihoods, food security and sovereignty, providing farming, grazing, fishing, hunting and traditional medicines.

In 2009-2010, Karuturi Global was awarded leases on 300,000 ha in Gambela and other parts of Ethiopia for agricultural production. The investor never cultivated more than a few thousand hectares, while in neighbouring Kenya the company’s flower farm was put into receivership, and the permits were duly rescinded. In September 2017 Karuturi announced its defeat and impending departure, but it is now trying to get the Indian government to woo Ethiopian authorities to give it another chance.

Karuturi’s operations in Gambela and other parts of Ethiopia have exposed the Anuak people to serious food insecurity and made them dependent on humanitarian assistance. They have lost cattle, fish stocks and wild animals due to the contamination of rivers, lakes and the environment through the use of chemicals at the company’s large-scale farming operations. This has reduced and weakened their food security and capacity to protect themselves against poverty and diseases.

The local communities have realised that they are far better off without the company’s investment and empty promises of employment opportunities, other economic benefits, and food security. The company has instead torn the community apart, left many hungry and homeless. Some fled their homes to South Sudan and Kenya, ruining the future for their children who are stuck in refugee camps and cannot attend school. Young girls and boys were forced to work on Karuturi’s farming operations for long hours at low wages, in violation of national and international labour laws.

In addition, Karuturi’s agribusiness projects have undermined the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights, as opponents to the project have been arbitrarily detained, arrested and persecuted. In 2015, Ethiopian land rights and food security activists were arrested and persecuted on fabricated charges for their efforts to attend a food security and land rights workshop. A protracted court case continues to drag on against food security, land rights and environmental campaigners in Ethiopia.

Karuturi’s land investment project resulted in the clearance of vast tracks of land with huge impacts on forests, bio-diversity, and eco-systems, such as the pollution of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The local people who strongly opposed the activities of Karuturi Global in Ethiopia, demand the return of lands to the communities and for the government of Ethiopia to recognise their customary land rights and their traditional environmental management knowledge. Since the company stopped its operations at its farm in Gambela in early 2014, the local people say there has been a rapid environmental recovery, with the growth of natural vegetation and the return of wild animals.

We therefore call on the governments of Ethiopia and India to dismiss the company’s claims over the land that belongs to the local communities under customary land rights and support their efforts to regain control over their lands and resources.

Signed:
Anywaa Survival Organisation, ASO
Ethiopian Anuak Development Foundation, Australia
Anuak Community Association in North America, USA

Supported by:
ADAPE-Guinée, Guinea
Adivasi Women’s Network, India
Africa Faith & Justice Network, US
AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women), Philippines
Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP), regional
Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), regional
Biofuelwatch, UK
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Liberia
CELADA, Canada
Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY, Madagascar/France
Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM), international
Community Alliance for Global Justice, US
Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD), Ghana
Faith and Justice Network, Liberia
Food Sovereignty, Ghana
Ghana National Convergence Platform on Land and Natural Resources Struggle, Ghana
GRAIN, international
Grassroots International, US
Indigenous Peoples Forum, India
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines
Local Futures, US/UK
National Farmers Union, Canada
Oakland Institute, International
Office for Mission and the Pontifical Mission Societies
Organisation Ivoirienne pour la paix (OIP), Côte d’Ivoire
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), international
Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique Europe, France
SOS Faim-Luxembourg
The Corner House, UK
US Food Sovereignty Alliance, US
World Rainforest Movement, international

November 5, 2017
by admin
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Ruling On GMO Case: Food Sovereignty Gh 3 ors. Vs. National Biosafety C’ttee & 4 ors

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS
COURT ONE HELD ON THURSDAY 29TH DAY OF 
OCTOBER, 2015 BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP SIR DENIS ADJEI J.A, 
SITTING AS AN ADDITIONAL HIGH COURT JUDGE
————————————————————————–
SUIT NO.: HRCM 43/15

1. FOOD SOVEREIGNTY GHANA
    KANESHIE – ACCRA                                               …. 1ST PLAINTIFF

2. CONVENTION PEOPLE’S PARTY
    ACCRA                                                                          …. 2ND PLAINTIFF
 
3. VEGETARIAN ASSOCIATION OF GHANA
    ASYLUM DOWN ACCRA                                         …. 3RD PLAINTIFF
 
4. GOASO KAYAN AKUAFO KUO
    GOASO BRONG AHAFO                                         …. 4TH PLAINTIFF
 
VRS
 
1. NATIONAL BIOSAFETY COMMITTEE
    MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE
    MINISTRIES – ACCRA                                              …. 1ST DEFENDANT
 
2. MINISTRY OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE (MOFA)
    MINISTRIES – ACCRA                                              ….  2ND DEFENDANT
 
3. NATIONAL BIOSAFETY AUTHORITY 
    MINISTRIES – ACCRA                                              …. 3RD DEFENDANT
 
4. ATTORNEY-GENERAL
    MINISTRIES – ACCRA                                              …. 4TH DEFENDANT
_____________________________________________________________
 
RULING
_____________________________________________________________

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD RULING IN PDF DOCUMENT:

Ruling (Food Sovereignty Gh 3 ors. Vs. National Biosafety C’ttee & 4 ors) Suit No. HRCM 43/15 (29th Oct., 15)

 

This appeared in today's Ghanaian Times newspaper. Tuesday, 24 October, 2017.

November 1, 2017
by admin
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Re: GMO Foods Are Safe To Eat – Scientist

The attention of Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) has been drawn to a publication on Tuesday, 24 October, 2017 by the Ghanaian Times, in which a research scientist at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Vivian Oduro, is reported to have stated that “Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods are safe to eat and has no health risk for consumers”.

According to the report, Dr. Oduro “gave the assurance” at a day’s Ghana Biotech Media Outreach in Accra organised by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) in partnership with Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) under the auspices of the US Embassy.

FSG finds it pathetically ironic that such reckless comments could come from a Senior Research Scientist of a reputable institution as the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, and most especially, at what was billed to be a “training workshop” intended “to build capacity of journalists on genetic engineering to enable them report accurately on the subject”.

Dr. Oduro’s astonishing claims go against years of efforts by scientists culminating in the creation of important international agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the UN’s Codex Alimentarius which show widespread recognition of risks posed by GM foods and crops. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, ratified by 166 governments seeks to protect biological diversity from the risks posed by GM technology. The UN’s Codex Alimentarius, worked with scientific experts for 7 years to develop international guidelines for the assessment of GM foods and crops because of concerns about the risks they pose.

It would have still been misleading even if Dr. Oduro had used the duplicitous language often used by the active pro-industry propagandists such as “genetically modified organisms for food, feed and processing that have been approved in accordance with international guidelines for risk assessment are as safe as the conventional counterpart.”

The point is that there is not a single regulatory body approving GMOs anywhere “in accordance with international guidelines for risk assessment.” For example, the US that is leading the pro-GM lobby in Ghana, does very little to conform to the minimum standards of regulation of GMOs. Indeed, Prof. David Schubert, professor and head, Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute, commenting on a comprehensive peer-reviewed study of US government’s regulation of GMOs that he co-authored stated:

“One thing that surprised us is that US regulators rely almost exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review…The picture that emerges from our study of US regulation of GM foods is a rubber-stamp ‘approval process’ designed to increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically engineered foods.” – USA: Food and Drug Administration (FDA): GMO Seralini http://www.gmoseralini.org/fda/

Which GMO is Dr. Oduro talking about, when independent peer-reviewed claims involving scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety.”? See: No scientific consensus on GMO safety http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/ The statement makes a clearly verifiable and incontrovertible observation that:

“It is often claimed that ‘trillions of GM meals’ have been eaten in the US with no ill effects. However, no epidemiological studies in human populations have been carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated with GM food consumption. As GM foods are not labelled in North America, a major producer and consumer of GM crops, it is scientifically impossible to trace, let alone study, patterns of consumption and their impacts. Therefore, claims that GM foods are safe for human health based on the experience of North American populations have no scientific basis”.

It is not even that the companies whose products the pro-GM lobbyists are busy defending even care about independent research. They discourage it. As a precondition to buy seeds, either to plant for crops or to use in research study, Monsanto and the gene giant companies must first sign an End User Agreement with the company. Monsanto, Pioneer (DuPont) and Syngenta require anyone buying their GMO seeds to sign an agreement that explicitly forbids that the seeds be used for any independent research.

As F. William Engdahl observes, “Scientists are prohibited from testing a seed to explore under what conditions it flourishes or even fails. They cannot compare any characteristics of the GMO seed with any other GMO or non-GMO seeds from another company. Most alarming, they are prohibited from examining whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended side-effects either in the environment or in animals or humans”. “GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food in Humans”, by F. William Engdahl, Voltaire Network, 15 September 2009, www.voltairenet.org/article162087.html

Independent scientists, including some of the brightest and best in the field have come under severe attacks, their reputations ruined, after coming out with adverse findings. These include Dr. Árpád Pusztai, Professor Gilles-Éric Séralini, Kevin Bradley, and reputable international organisations such as the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) after IARC scientists declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in March 2015.

In 1998, Dr. Árpád Pusztai a world expert on plant lectins and nutritionist who spent 36 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, publicly announced that the results of his research showed feeding genetically modified potatoes to rats had negative effects on their stomach lining and immune system. The fight back was immediate. Dr. Pusztai was suspended and his annual contract was not renewed. Árpád Pusztai – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81rp%C3%A1d_Pusztai.

In secret internal Monsanto documents released on Tuesday 1st August 2017 by legal firms in the U.S. it was made clear how Monsanto successfully pressured Wallace Hayes, Editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal to retract the famous Séralini study which discovered the damage caused by GM maize NK603 and low doses of Roundup herbicide. GMO Seralini – Monsanto Secret Documents Show Massive Attack on Seralini Study https://www.gmoseralini.org/monsanto-secret-documents-show-massive-attack-on-seralini-study/

The list of scientists who have come under attack is almost endless and the attacks are ongoing. Currently, Prof. Kevin Bradley, a professor of weed science at the University of Missouri, and a half-dozen other university weed scientists have come under attack after confronting what they believe are misleading and scientifically unfounded claims by Monsanto new “low-volatility” formulations of dicamba. Monsanto Attacks Scientists After Studies Show Trouble For Weedkiller Dicamba – Slashdot https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/10/26/214219/monsanto-attacks-scientists-after-studies-show-trouble-for-weedkiller-dicamba

Brent Wisner, an attorney from the firm that released the documents, told journalist Carey Gillam, who is also the research director for U.S. Right to Know. “These show that Monsanto has deliberately been stopping studies that look bad for them, ghostwriting literature and engaging in a whole host of corporate malfeasance. They (Monsanto) have been telling everybody that these products are safe because regulators have said they are safe, but it turns out that Monsanto has been in bed with U.S. regulators while misleading European regulators.” – ‘Secret Docs’ Show Monsanto’s Attempt to Influence Writers, Bribe Scientists https://www.ecowatch.com/monsanto-glyphosate-cancer-2468647604.html

The health, environment, and agriculture authorities of most nations recognize publicly that no blanket statement about the safety of all GMOs is possible and that they must be assessed on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. Dr. Oduro’s astonishing claim that “Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods are safe to eat and has no health risk for consumers”, is clearly misleading and misrepresents or outright ignores the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of scientific opinions among scientists on this issue. The real problem here is that such a claim further encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

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

 

GMO foods safe to eat – Scientist
BY KINGSLEY ASARE

A Senior Research Scientist at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Vivian Oduro has stated that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods are safe to eat and has no health risk for consumers.

She explained that genetic modification also known as genetic engineering involves the transfer of genes that are pest and disease resistant from one crop into the other to improve productivity.

Dr Oduro gave the assurance at a day’s Ghana Biotech Media Outreach in Accra yesterday.

Organised by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) in partnership with PBS under the auspices of the US Embassy in Accra, the training workshop was to build capacity of journalists on genetic engineering to enable them report accurately on the subject.

Anti-GMO campaigners claim genetically modified foods are not healthy and safe to consume.

The Senior Research Scientist said genetic engineering was an improved form of conventional breeding, which involves the transfer of an interest gene to another crop.

She said genetic engineering was fast and efficient unlike conventional breeding which took several years for scientists to come out with an improved breed.

Dr Oduro, for example indicated that maize had undergone several genetic transformation to get the current breed of maize.

The Senior Research Scientist said genetic engineering was meant to come out with crops that were disease, pest, and drought resistant to boost the productivity of farmers.

She said the threat of climate change had created the need to develop crops that were disease, pest and drought resistant, adding that genetically modified crops reduce the cost of food production to the less use of pesticide, insecticide, and fertilizer.

SADC Regional Director of Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, Daniel Kamanga who spoke on the “Application of Biotechnology around the World,” said biotechnology was one of the best solutions to address agricultural problems in Africa.”GM is one the technologies Africa must use to solve Africa’s agricultural challenges.,” he said.

He defined GMO as a product of more precise breeding that enables a scientist to take a trait found in nature and transfer it to another plant.

Mr Kamanga said there were 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops being cultivated in 26 countries by about 18 million farmers, adding that “biotech crops increased 110 fold from 1996 to 2016.”

Some of the GM products being cultivated are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes and squash.

He urged the media to sustain the discussion on GMO and highlight on its benefits to encourage the adoption of the technology by the government.

The Chief Executive Officer NBA, Mr Eric Okoree said NBA which was established in 2011 became operational in 2015 to promote Biosafety issues in the country.

He said a Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831) was to ensure the proper regulation of biotechnology in the country.

Mr Okoree explained that the Act outlines elaborate and string procedures before a GM product/crop could be imported into the country or undergo trials.

He entreated government to adequately resource the authority to deliver on its mandate.

This appeared in today's Ghanaian Times newspaper. Tuesday, 24 October, 2017.

This appeared in today’s Ghanaian Times newspaper. Tuesday, 24 October, 2017.