1. FOOD SOVEREIGNTY GHANA
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November 5, 2017
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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 : email@example.com
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.
October 23, 2017
a. Principles for labeling i.e. process/proof based; mandatory/voluntary; positive/negative.
b. Exceptions – products exemptedc. Threshold levelsd. Traceabilitye. Penalties
Sky Fm from Takorad interviewed Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour, Communications Directorate, FSG, i on Monday, 16th October, 2017 in commemoration of the World Food Day. Click here to listen:
“Ghanaians must demand accountability for the manner in which successive governments are turning a blind eye to very clear and accurate evidence that GMO is not the way forward for Ghana’s agriculture and food production. Our next national disaster like that caused by our mediocrity towards small scale mining today will be as a result of ignoring this most critical issue in agriculture. Many nations have already taken a principled position against it yet here we go again…..Ghana must shine her eye! We are in need of visionary leadership….Long Live Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah!”
- Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Director of Communications FSG
September 10, 2017
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FSG Response to misinformation by National Seed Trade Association
by Food Sovereignty Ghana, Friday, 8th September 2017
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) wishes to respond to the unfortunate utterances by the President of the newly formed National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) Mr. Thomas Havor. See: GMO technology can turn around Ghana’s fortunes – Seed Producers, Monday, 4 September 2017 https://t.co/JeMDRbLePn.
In the widely circulated news report, Mr. Havor dismissed concerns that GMO crops could be harmful and could damage the health of consumers. We find his pronouncements to be extremely inaccurate, misleading and worrying.
In his own words “The hesitance about GMO’s is only because people do not understand it”. “But there is nothing unsafe about it.” “But there is nothing unsafe about it.”
Our simple response is that the concerns about GMOs are widespread and totally reasonable given the overwhelming quantum of independent research findings which question their safety for human health and expose their negative effects on the environment. Furthermore, Mr. Havor’s assurances of the safety of GMOs run counter to the peer-reviewed publication in the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibilities, 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/
FSG like these independent experts, “endorse the need for further independent scientific inquiry and informed public discussion on GM product safety and urge GM proponents to do the same”.
What we find worrying is that these absolutely unsubstantiated claims on the safety of GMO’s once more, expose the agenda of a multinational agro business lobby that seeks at all costs, to recruit stakeholders in many countries especially those in under-developed ones like Ghana.
To place the comments of Mr. Havor in true context, the American Association of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has already announced and made clear that it will not prescribe GMO food to its members’ patients. See: American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), 2009. Genetically Modified Foods. https://www.aaemonline.
In a well-researched book by US public interest attorney Steven Druker he indicates that the commercialization of GM food in the US was based on a massive fraud. The FDA files revealed that GM foods first achieved commercialization in 1992 but only because the FDA covered up the extensive warnings of its own scientists about their dangers, lied about the facts and then violated federal food safety law by permitting these foods to be marketed without having been proven safe through standard testing.
If the FDA had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings that GM foods entailed higher risks than their conventional counterparts, Druker says that the GM food venture would have imploded and never gained traction anywhere. He also argues that that many well-placed scientists have repeatedly issued misleading statements about GM foods, and so have leading scientific institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK’s Royal Society.
Druker states that contrary to the claims of biotech advocates, humans have indeed been harmed by consuming the output of genetic engineering. He also explains that laboratory animals have also suffered from eating products of genetic engineering, and well-conducted tests with GM crops have yielded many troubling results, including intestinal abnormalities, liver disturbances, and impaired immune systems.” See: “Altered Genes, Twisted Truths” : A Challenge to Monsanto By Colin Todhunter, Global Research, May 22, 2015 https://shar.es/1UpH1n,
In addition to all these, the GMO technology is not even delivering what the proponents promise it will deliver. As a recent article in New York Times, eloquently proclaimed: “The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat… the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides”. See: Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops - By DANNY HAKIMOCT. 29, 2016 The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/
A recent documentary aired globally on Al Jazeera, “Circle of Poison” exposed the unethical corporate practices of the world’s leading agro business entities who have been implicated in all sorts of fraud and it is often these very companies whose underhand dealings are responsible for corrupting government officials in different countries to their advantage. See: Circle of Poison - Al Jazeera English http://www.aljazeera.
According to several credible sources, consumer demand for non GMO produce has doubled and even in some cases tripled in recent times. To verify this, any Ghanaian with a relative living abroad can confirm this fact to help put the Pro GMO lobby efforts at convincing Ghanaians into real context contrary to world trends that this is not the sustainable way forward with agriculture. See: USDA ERS – Organic Market Overview https://www.ers.usda.
Daniel Aghan, Head of Communications and Advocacy at the African Seed Trade Association says “there are numerous available opportunities for Africans to accelerate the development of the continent if more countries adopt GMOs”. What he has not been generous in sharing with the public is the fact that nineteen out of twenty eight EU countries have opted not to participate in GMO based agriculture. There is abundant evidence to refute the claims that GMO’s produce higher yields and use less pesticides. It is unfortunate that there is such a concerted effort to introduce to Ghana what other countries have strategically decided to avoid. The Chinese military recently banned GMO for their consumption. This is a clear indication that the super power is aware of the long term implications of consuming GMO on their well-being as a leading nation.
Right across our border the government of Burkina Faso has made a strategic about turn in its quest to develop GM cotton in the country after the experiment’s abysmal five year performance. This was a complete failure even at the grassroots level where the amount of money farmers received was reduced because the weight of the cotton, the length of the fibres were all of less quality than the traditionally grown variety. The poor performance of the GM cotton project in Burkina is likely what informed Monsanto’s recent withdrawal of budgetary support for the GM cotton project in Northern Ghana. It is most unfortunate especially since inaccurate contributions from people like him go to confuse Ghanaians of the realities on the ground. See: Burkina Faso abandons GM cotton | eco@africa | DW | 13.01.2017 http://www.dw.com/
“Ghana loses 7.6 billion US dollars every year due to malnutrition. This is improved seeds; this is new technology seeds that can turn around the production of food… This is a technology that can turn around the fortunes of Africa and Ghana,” Mr. Aghan noted. The sources of nutrition have drastically changed in Ghana. Instead of patronizing more traditional foods with higher nutritional value, western inspired lifestyles have encouraged a switching to less nutritious fast foods of convenience with devastating effects on childhood development. Hardy local perennial grains such as fonio, millet, and sorghum have been substituted for corn and white rice with higher starch contents and less vitamins and minerals.
Those who advocate for GMO based agriculture in Ghana should ask what informs the cautious approach to GMOs by the governments of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Scotland and many more.
Unfortunately and naturally, GMO advocates never mention the unethical practices that often result in the passing of hazardous products as “safe”. It is on the back of these “engineered safety tests” that the world is deceived into thinking that GMO’s are not harmful. Without the voice of organisations such as FSG, Ghanaians would be misled on the actual real truths behind questionable regulation. See: Court Documents Reveal Monsanto Edited “Independent” Scientific Review | New York Legal Examiner | New York http://newyork.
Pro GM advocates have always touted the technology as crucial to help farmers deal effectively with pest attacks and the impact of climate change. The truth is all evidence is pointing to a need to make a dynamic shift from commercial large scale agriculture to more agro ecological ways of producing food. Agro ecology takes into consideration the surrounding natural environment existing and ensures that all farming practices and human interventions are done in a sustainable manner which will essentially ensure a perpetuation of a balanced ecosystem. Today the Boll Army worm is ravaging fields all across this nation with farmers struggling to control the pest using chemicals. There is no denying the increased resistance that has developed in recent years amongst many GM crop pests including the current growing resistance of the pink boll worm in India to GM cotton and its chemical cocktails. Pink bollworm develops resistance to Bt cotton http://www.
A wide coalition of stakeholders has already expressed concern about the introduction of GMO into our food system. These include the Christian Council of Ghana, The Catholic Bishops Conference, The Ghana Muslim Mission, The Office of The Chief Imam, The Peasant Farmers Association, The Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress, The Convention People’s Party and the Rastafari Council, Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), Food Span among others.
Surely this constitutes a significant collection of key stakeholders in this nation who will disagree with Ghana continuing down the path we seem to be heading regarding adopting GMO agriculture. All these stakeholders can read in between the lines of the pro GMO position.
A national debate involving all stakeholders on the suitability of GMO’s in the Ghana food industry will help reach a consensus on a sustainable national position as well as to help expose the lack of engagement that has so far been the hall mark of the entire GMO agenda in Ghana. A more transparent process is needed to settle the controversial issue which conveniently did not find a voice on any political party campaign platform leading up to the recent election in 2016.
What Ghana needs is Agro-ecology, not GM Technology! See: Why GMOs won’t feed the hungry of the world but agroecology can http://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17740-why-gmos-won-t-feed-the-hungry-of-the-world-but-agroecology-can
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) and hundreds of concerned Ghanaians and a good representation of foreigners will congregate in the La Township of Accra Ghana on Saturday May 20th to observe in solidarity with hundreds of thousands around the world, the annual March Against Monsanto. This is the fourth consecutive March observed by FSG in Ghana.
Monsanto is well known for its irresponsible and controversial corporate practices and it is no wonder that there is so much international consensus across the planet on the need to bring justice to the many issues that infringe upon the rights of individuals, groups and entire nations across the globe. The poisonous glyphosate based flagship chemical “Round Up” sold by Monsanto has found its way into most African countries including Ghana and the overwhelming evidence exposing the carcinogenic nature of the chemical has sadly not registered as fact with our local policy makers. The findings of the recent Monsanto Tribunal provide enough evidence to make the informed decision to keep Ghana organic however these calls seem to perpetually fall on deaf ears.
With the nation’s recent rude awakening to the real impact of galamsey (illegal small scale mining) activities and the consequent implications on human health and the environment, FSG seeks to use the March to send a clear message to key stakeholders of an impending disaster of national dimensions in the coming years if there is not a dynamic shift away from large scale commercial agriculture with its heavy dependence on energy and chemical inputs. A recent documentary by Joy news also exposes the rampant misuse of chemicals in our food production systems and therefore it is high time we pay heed to this unsustainable way forward in our agriculture. The cost to human health and the environment is too high to bear hence the principled position that FSG has taken ever since its inception in 2013.
A court in California recently ruled on a case involving the controversial glyphosate based chemicals and has ordered all products containing the carcinogenic ingredient to have a mandatory label warning potential consumers of the high risk of cancer. The financial power behind the corporate lobbying for Monsanto results in decisions and policies implemented in countries across the world which do not endure to the benefit of the local population. Directly impacted are the often majority of the population being the peasant farmers.
FSG recently celebrated the International Day of Peasants’ struggle and expressed concern that the rights of the peasant have never been under more pressure since the beginning of time. There are many factors affecting peasant welfare in a negative manner and many are due to the result of unethical and irresponsible corporate practices of companies like Monsanto. This opposition to chemical dependent farming is growing across the world with louder calls from across the board for a return to more agro ecological farm practices to ensure the sustainability of the environment.http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/scientist-call-for-increase-to-agro-research-funding-0508#.WPSimPnyipo, http://permaculturenews.org/2014/09/26/un-small-farmers-agroecology-can-feed-world/
In vindication of FSG’s position for the past few years, Monsanto, the world’s leading Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seeds producer is facing challenges in Burkina Faso after that country rejected GMO cotton and began a phased withdrawal of the novel products. Farmers have now returned to growing conventional seeds. Cotton production in Burkina Faso, one of Africa’s top growers, is likely to cross 800,000 tons in 2017-18 season, according to the country’s cotton association. In 2016-17, farmers in Burkina Faso produced 683,000 tons of cotton, around 17 per cent more than the 586,000 tons harvested in 2015-2016… see: Burkina Faso’s cotton output on the rise after going NON-#GMO: https://t.co/7wlzo2Sr7c
March Against Monsanto, is an international grassroots movement against Monsanto corporation, in protest of the company’s practices of using their affluence to influence the outcome of legislations, regulations, research findings, media narratives, etc. The movement was founded by Tami Canal in response to the failure of California Proposition 37, a ballot initiative which would have required labeling food products made from GMOs. Monsanto was reported to have poured in $7,100,500 to help narrowly defeat California’s Proposition 37.
Since the huge success of the first march, the movement has been growing from strength to strength and a larger number of cities and countries are expected this year.
Why do we march in Accra?
This year’s march comes at a time where Parliament is reopening with the Plant Breeders’ Bill still compliant to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants UPOV, a rather rigid set of intellectual property rights regime that is not suited to our socio-economic conditions. This UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, aka “Monsanto Law”, is on its agenda. What is at stake is the farmer’s right “to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material”.
The bill in Clause 21 (2), puts farmers’ rights at the discretion of the Minister for Agriculture, which equates to not rights at all. The same bill in Clause 23, makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana.
“Farmers’ Rights” according to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), of which Ghana is a signatory, include the right of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material; the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and the right to the protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. It also recognizes “the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centers of origin and crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world”
Despite several calls for a report on the almost four-year old “consultations” by respective Parliamentary Select-Committee responsible, we are yet to receive any favourable response. The absence of the report makes the entire process an affront to the sensibilities of Ghanaians. The public has an interest to know what petitions were presented, their full content, and why the Committee in its wisdom is proceeding, in the light of these objections.
It is difficult to see how Parliament is going to proceed with the consideration of the Plant Breeders’ Bill without the publication of such a comprehensive report. This shall be in contravention of the call for “further consultation” by the Speaker, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”.
It is a pleasure to be part of what has become the most powerful statement of the ordinary person in the street against the deep pockets of giant lobbies, promoting GMOs, facilitating biopiracy, suppressing farmers’ rights, and other mischiefs.
We are marching to protest the continued imposition of GMOs on Ghanaians by our political class, aided and abetted by scientists blinded often by conflicts of interests and inducements from the GM lobby.
We are marching because, at a time where the monumental failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso is an open secret, we would like to see scientists like Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, Plant Breeder and Principal Investigator for Bt Cotton research at the CSIR-Savanna Agric. Research Institute (SARI), Nyankpala, Tamale, recant their justification for their embrace of Bt cotton:
“We realised that Burkina Faso, which is our next door neighbour is growing Bt Cotton commercially and as a result of that they are making a lot of progress in their cotton industry. First of all, the farmers are getting very high yields and as a result they are getting good income out of that and apart from that we also realised that Bt Cotton saves farmers a lot of time and energy and also we thought because with the Bt, it is resistant to the major insect pests in cotton production – the Bollworm complex,”
Meanwhile, if anything at all, the spectacular failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso should be a good reason why Ghana must be considering other agroecological solutions rather than the failed technology that impoverishes farmers and enriches the seed corporations.
We are marching to highlight the need to learn the appropriate lessons from the international environment under which the march is taking place this year. The recent leaks of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have added a new sense of urgency and the importance of the march. We take note that the thrust of the agreements is to enhance corporate power through legal mechanisms. The Panama Papers give us some ideas with what they do with the money they steal from us!
What solutions do we advocate?
As this march takes place at a time the Parliament of Ghana is reopening with the Plant Breeders’ Bill at the top of its agenda, we call on Parliament to completely withdraw the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill and replace it with a “sui generis” plant variety protection (PVP) system suitable to our conditions.
We strongly believe that it is about time that our Parliament shifts the discussion on the controversial and immensely dangerous UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill to a focus on a “sui generis” PVP system for Ghana.
We have already pointed out that Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Under this, Ghana has full flexibility to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs.
There is no need for Ghana to allow our laws dictated to us from an organisation like UPOV in Geneva.
We call for an indefinite moratorium or complete ban on the cultivation of GM crops in Ghana until the science of GM foods and human health, as well as environmental impact, has been thoroughly studied and cleared as safe by independent science rather than corporate-driven, profit-oriented scientists and regulators, ridden with conflicts-of-interest.
We humbly call on the Nana Akufo Addo administration to orientate government policy on agriculture towards what all the experts are saying: agroecology. The technology currently exists that is developing drought-resistant, pest resistant and high yielding crops through traditional breeding and selection. Marker Assisted Agro-ecological farming is not only inexpensive, and sustainable, it is far more successful than GM technology.
Agroecological techniques are already safely and inexpensively producing crops with increasing yields plus tolerance and resistance to environmental stressors. We should forget GMOs and concentrate on agroecological agriculture. The only reason why our “development partners” are opposed to this is because their multinational corporations shall lose the attempts to monopolize our food through GMO patents. They see our agricultural wealth as raw material to be extracted from Ghana in order to power their economic engine. We need to control and develop our agricultural wealth to power Ghana’s economic engine.
That’s why we invite all to join us as we March Against Monsanto here in Accra.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact: Tel: +233 207973808
International Meetings of the Resistance against GMOs : final declaration
Rencontres Internationales des Résistances aux OGM
Lorient, Brittany, 30th April 2017
Following the international meetings of convergence of Resistance to GMOs in Ouagadougou, April 2016, [organised by the Collectif citoyen pour l’Agroécologie CCAE], following the Peoples Assembly & International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, October 2016, following the First Seed Olympiad, Paranesti, Greece, April 2017, we, of the Resistance in 28 countries in 5 continents, meeting in Lorient, Brittany, 28-30 April 2017, in order to build convergence, on the occasion of this the second International Convergence of the Resistance againt GMOs, do declare :
Our seed, our knowledge and our know-how are a proud cultural heritage, not merchandise, and we alone decide with whom they are to be shared. We refuse to see them stolen by industry for genetic manipulation and privatisation under patent property rights, proceeding thus to wipe out, in country after country, all the local plant varieties and local livestock breeds. Industrial interests, moreover, cannot fool all the people all the time when they try to pass off their latest (and dissimulated) innovations as traditional varieties.
We have therefore decided :
- to exercise our legitimate right to conserve, use, exchange and sell our farmers seed and to participate in decisions concerning their destiny, whether or not these rights are recognised by legislation ;
- to everywhere protect or create local varietal conservatories for farmers seed, managed by the community ;
- to organise the validating and propagating of our farmers knowledge and know-how and to pass them on to posterity in schools and universities ;
- to work for the adoption in other instances of the opinion rendered by the Peoples Tribunal on the crimes of Monsanto, implicating also other destroyers of the very fundamentals of terrestrial life. Ecocide has begun.
Year after year, pesticides and GMOs provoke terrible damage to the health of millions of people, and this with the complicity of politicians and industries. Their impunity is no longer tolerable.
There is a cruel lack of independent basic research into the impact of GMOs and pesticides.
The Agro-Ecology proposition covers more than a method of production, it advocates :
- agricultural production without inputs of synthetic chemistry or genetic manipulation of plants and animals ;
- the nourishment and the food sovereignty of all peoples ;
- the autonomous organisation of local food systems ;
- the autonomy of the farmers and of their human-scale farms ;
- the necessary attention to the fertility of the soil.
It contributes to limiting climate change, it is our way of life, our way of thinking and our way of being part of society. The human race is part of the ecosystem and its biodiversity and has a rôle to play in maintaining their equilibrium.
In furtherance of agro-ecological values we shall be working with local authorities to resist land-grabbing, to maintain farm land in practices that exclude synthetic chemicals and other artificial inputs. We shall work for the education of youth, for their access to agricultural occupations, for restoring to citizens a new confidence in their own skills and values, and for improving the status and integration of women.
The role of farmland is to nourish the people and not to enrich the financiers or speculators in the carbon market, nor should land-grabbing be allowed for these latter purposes.
We can no longer remain passive. We are pacific but not docile. Determined as we are to resist and struggle in convergence against ecocide, we therefore today create the International Front of Resistance against GMOs and the agrochemicals industry.
The foundation of this front is today laid in Brittany. We commit ourselves to develop it in opposition to the corporations whose objective is the control of the world’s food systems.
Lorient, Brittany, 30 April 2017, signed in resistance
Food Sovereignty Ghana stands in solidarity with all progressive people around the world to salute and celebrate the International Day of Peasants’ struggle. We fully recognize this distinguished group of humanity who provide the majority of food we consume on the planet. For millennia mankind has depended on peasant farmers to provide the daily nutritional needs of our communities and they continue to remain a most significant pillar in the organisational structure of any nation.
FSG is however highly concerned that the rights of the peasant have never been under more pressure since the beginning of time. There are many factors affecting peasant welfare in a negative manner and FSG calls upon the stakeholders of the world’s food production systems to incorporate more sustainable models of agriculture to ensure a balanced approach. It is only this dynamic shift of thought which will provide the much needed relief that millions of peasants desperately require. It is almost beyond the deadline for governments to develop the political will and support their citizens and the environment.
This celebration is observed at a time when there are more and more calls from across the board for a return to more agroecological farm practices to ensure the sustainability of the environment.
As the most important stakeholders in the food production value chain, peasant farmers deserve to be respected and have their rights protected to ensure they continue to play the invaluable role that they have played for millennia.
Farmers‘ rights include the ability to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and these are under heavy threat from the proposed Plant Breeders’ Bill. Specifically to this effect FSG reiterates its call on the honourable house of Parliament to publishthe report on the Civil Society and Faith Based Organization consultations on the Plant Breeders’ Bill (PBB).
We repeat our observations and calls we made on the absence of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) , Parliament Beats a Retreat on Plant Breeders’ Bill! | https://foodsovereigntyghana.org/parliament-beats-a-retreat-on-plant-breeders-bill/ Food Sovereignty Ghana, which we made as far back as November 27, 2014:
“We would like to see in any future bill, a clear statement of farmers rights and the absence of any form of criminalization of farmers such as what we saw in Clause 58 of the rejected bill. In the Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on The Plant Breeders’ Bill, November, 2013, we witness the conspicuous absence of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) among the documents referenced. This is an unconscionable omission. Ghana is a signatory to this treaty. It is the treaty that protects and supports farmers rights. As a member of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGRFA) we expect Ghana to take steps to realize farmers’ rights to use, sell, save and exchange farm-saved seeds, to protect their traditional knowledge and to allow their participation in national decision-making. The bill must preserve Ghana’s sovereign independence and must protect the DNA of Ghana’s traditional seeds from biopiracy.”
We must warn the government and Parliament to be aware of the interests behind the massive lobbying activities of the transnational corporations in support the Plant Breeders’ Bill, and be reminded that their primary duty is to the welfare of Ghanaians.
A properly written report, detailing the various objections to the PBB in the petitions, and the reasons why our MPs think they must not be taken into consideration, if any, must be made known to all Ghanaians. Transparency is the key and on this day when we recognize the daily struggles and celebrate their triumphs over what could be avoidable obstacles we feel that Ghana owes it to our peasant farmers to ensure their welfare. In so doing we automatically safeguard our future food supply as well as protect the environment and livelihood of almost sixty percent of our population.
In place of the proposed PBB which is so unfortunately inspired by the very controversial UPOV 91 plant variety protection regime, we humbly urge the government of Ghana and Parliament to consider and adopt a “sui generis” PVP system which also takes care of plant breeder rights as well as those of farmers, as this also fulfils WTO obligations.
On such a momentous occasion we call on the government of Ghana to pay great attention to the sustainability factor in implementing its proposed “Planting for food for jobs” programme. Any programme to achieve the sort of targets identified will require much attention to detail in ensuring that factors such as soil fertility, climate change, equitable access to land, information and inclusion in policy making are addressed.
In light of the upcoming proposed launch of the national ‘Planting for Food and Jobs program at Goaso, capital of the Asunafo Municipality in the Brong-Ahafo Region on April 19, 2017, we call on H.E. President Akufo Addo to reconsider the negative impact on the Ghanaian environment and her citizens that the incorporation of chemicals such as the controversial and harmful Monsanto manufactured “Roundup” which has been linked to cancer by much independent research will pose. The United Nations has diplomatically stated that “Glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization announced on 20 March 2015 that #glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. (Guyton, K. Z. et al. Lancet Oncol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8 (2015).)
To this end, FSG is very disturbed about the likelihood that such a dangerous chemical will play a key role in the government’s preferred path to achieve food security. It is absolutely unsustainable to think that 250,000 farmers will be encouraged to utilize on their crops and land a chemical that has earned a controversial status all over the world where its negative effects are now well documented. In support of our position we share the recent court decision in California to become the first US state to declare Glyphosate causes cancer http://www.ecowatch.com/california-roundup-cancer-warning-2…
According to news reports, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, explains that the programme, a new initiative and intervention introduced by the government to promote national food security and job creation, “interested farmers would be provided with free seedlings and other agricultural inputs and agro-chemicals such as fertilizers at reduced prices”. Mr Asomah-Cheremeh made this known at the launching of the KVCL/Dizengoff partnership project in Sunyani.
We also learn that:
“Under the partnership, Dizengoff Ghana will bring its products to the door-step of farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions at reduced prices”.
Unfortunately, FSG is aware of the fact that Dizengoff Ghana Ltd one of such products is Monsanto’s Roundup. See: http://dizengoffgh.com/agric/2012/05/04/agro-chemicals/
We call on the government to ensure that the use of such a highly toxic and controversial chemical is suspended until the science becomes very clear. We must not use Ghanaians as guinea pigs in such a dangerous experiment!
We join independent experts all over the world as we point to agroecology as the way forward. Peasant farmers are scientists with indigenous knowledge who understand their land, the flora and fauna that live in their surroundings and we must harness this ancient wisdom that maintained the sustainability of ecosystems for millennia.
FSG wishes all peasant farmers and their families a happy International Day of Peasants’ struggle!
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact FSG Communications:
Tel: +233 207973808
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