Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

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November 27, 2014
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Parliament Beats a Retreat on Plant Breeders’ Bill!

The move to impose the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill on Ghanaians suffered a major set-back on Tuesday, November 11, 2014. This is a significant victory given the level of push back our campaign received from the MPs and the entire apparatus of state of the Mahama Administration. This does not mean the end of the story. The real struggle for a sensible law now begins.

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. 

The Majority Leader and Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Mr. Bagbin executed an “organized retreat”, of the type associated with an army in the face of superior fire-power, when the Bill came up as Item No. 7 on the Order Paper of the day. After reminding the Speaker that the Bill was at the Consideration Stage, and that “there was no way we could move it back to Second Reading”, He was quickly interrupted by the Speaker:

Mr Speaker: Hon Majority Leader, if it is not a procedure provided for by the Constitution –– we are masters of our own procedure. Given the level of public comments on this matter, I would wish you let us see how we can do it so that those issues that are in the Report –– I understand you perfectly, that at the Consideration Stage, we cannot go back to Second Consideration Stage. If it is not a procedure that would breach the Constitution, but is only a provision which would be consistent with our –– Or if you can find a way of dealing with our own Standing Orders, so that those issues can be discussed to pave way comfortably for the Consideration Stage, I would urge for further consultation, so that maybe, tomorrow, we can take it. I do not know what you feel about it, Hon Majority Leader. Unless the procedure is outlined by the Constitution –– That one, we cannot do anything about it. This is because it is important to inform the people of Ghana.

Mr Bagbin: Mr Speaker, I take a cue from the Chair, and would try to go by the wise counsel that you have given, and reconsider the position. We discussed it extensively. Some were for what you are proposing, but the majority were against that. So, I agree that during the Consideration Stage, I would present it. But once you have counselled, we would go back to consult and see how best we can iron out a procedure that would not be in conflict with any of the laws including the Constitution. This is because with Parliament, we are masters of our own procedure. So, we can defer this item till we finish with the consultation”. (See: The Hansard | Official Report for 11th November 2014 | Publications | Parliament of Ghana http://www.parliament.gh/publications/30/906)

The meaning of this is that the Plant Breeders’ Bill now goes back for a Second Reading. The main difference between a Consideration Stage and a Second Reading is that, at the Consideration Stage a Bill is examined in detail, and amendments may be proposed to it. The House does not discuss the principle of the Bill at that stage. The scope for fundamental changes is thus very narrow. Second Reading of Bills, however, is intended to give the public an opportunity to participate in the discussion of Bills; individuals may be requested to appear before the Committee to assist it. Bills are closely scrutinised in the relevant Committee of the House. Without a doubt, Second Reading is the most important stage in the passage of a Bill. Thus this is the time for the Ghanaian public to make their concerns known to Parliament, as the pressures from the multinational corporations and their local and international allies are also bound to mount.

Food Sovereignty Ghana is most grateful to our local partners in this campaign: the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana, PFAG, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Development, CIKOD, General Agricultural Workers’ Union, GAWU, National Catholic Secretariat of Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (NCS/GCBC), Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Marshallan Relief and Development Services (MAREDES), Federation of Muslim Women of Ghana (FOMWAG), Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM), Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana (AMM-G), Religious Bodies Network for Climate Change (RELBONET) Ahlussuna Wal Jama’a (ASWAJ), Office of the National Chief Imam (ONCI), The Rastarian Council, Vegetarian Association of Ghana, Socialist Forum of Ghana, SFG, Accra Freedom Centre, The Economic Justice Network, EJN, The Brong Ahafo House of Chiefs, the Small Scale Women and Men Farmers in Ghana, among others.

We wish to mention in particular, the Convention People’s Party, CPP, for the gallant support. We take notice of the fact that the CPP has been hailed as the only political party in Africa that has clearly identified with this cause against the imposition of GM foods and the monopolization of seeds on the continent. We are equally grateful to our international partners for their solidarity. We mention in particular, the World Development Movement WDM, of the UK for the enormous pressure they put on the UK Parliament to pull out of the G8NA, and to support our campaign. Our gratitude also goes to the African Centre for Biosafety, ACB, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, AFSA, Bread for the World, Germany, for sponsoring a workshop on GMOs, Third World Network, TWN, Groundswell International, GRAIN, GMWatch, Pan-Africanist International, Dr. Vandana Shiva and the Navdanya Trust and many many more, not forgetting the 51 international NGOs that signed a petition to the Parliament.

There is no doubt, that despite the determination on the part of the powers that be, to push the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs down the throats of Ghanaians, they have been compelled by the mounting local and international pressure to beat a retreat! There is no doubt that victory is in sight! This is a time to intensify the campaign and to set the agenda. We with the take advantage of this opportunity to re-iterate our call for an indefinite moratorium on the production, importation, offer sale, exportation, transit, field trials of genetically modified foods in Ghana. We also wish to call into question, issues of conflicts of interest within the National Biosafety Committee.

Apart from Clause 23, which is designed to surrender Ghana’s sovereignty to foreign multinational corporations, we want to see the disclosure of origin of all genetic materials in the applications for patents, in order to protect Ghana from biopiracy. Biopiracy is a situation where indigenous knowledge of nature, originating with indigenous peoples, is used by others for profit, without permission from and with little or no compensation or recognition to the indigenous people themselves. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources is one of the three objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD recognises the sovereign right of states over their natural resources in areas within their jurisdiction. See: The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing.pdf http://www.cbd.int/undb/media/factsheets/undb-factsheet-nagoya-en.pdf

An area where we strongly disagree is why the government opted for UPOV 91 in the first place. The Bill is presented, first and foremost as being in fulfilment of the requirements of UPOV 91, which incidentally is also in conformity with the WTO rules. We can fulfil our WTO obligations without UPOV. We do not need UPOV. It is a very restrictive and dangerous trap into a permanent enslavement and loss of our sovereignty as a people. This is what is staring at us in the face. Our destiny as a people depends on the decision our Members of Parliament make.

Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Sui generis means “unique” system of protection. This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection (PVP). This means that Ghana has the option of using this flexibility to innovatively design a PVP system that reflects the conditions prevailing in Ghana. This is what many advanced developing countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India have done. The African Union Ministers have also recommended a unique Model Law for Plant Variety Protection. 

We have a lot of work ahead to get a bill that really meets the needs of Ghana and Ghanaians. And we call on every Ghanaian who eats food to join us in this struggle!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Bagbin

November 19, 2014
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Investigate Bagbin Over Plant Breeders’ Bill!

By Food sovereignty Ghana, 18 November, 2014

We wish to condemn in no uncertain terms, the attempts by the Majority Leader and Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to distort and misrepresent our objections to the Plant Breeders’ Bill on the floor of the House, on Tuesday, 11th November, 2014. We do find this reprehensible behaviour to be sufficiently alarming and absolutely irresponsible enough to call for an independent body to investigate his conduct.

Towards the end of last year, following numerous petitions to the Parliament, the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon. Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho, suspended the legislative process of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, 2013, and requested a meeting with the various groups that had forwarded petitions to the Parliament, to which call Food Sovereignty Ghana responded on the 4th of December, 2013, and met with the relevant Parliamentary select Committee headed by Mr. Bagbin.

Again, in an opening statement of the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament on Tuesday, 28th January, 2014, the Speaker for the second time announced that he was referring  “this matter to the Leadership to consider and advise the Chair accordingly.” The Rt Hon. Adjaho in his statement directed that the leadership of the House considered thoroughly the Plant Breeders Bill, Biosafety Act and the related petitions sent in from the various organized bodies and ‘advise the Chair accordingly’.

Thereafter, a press conference was organised at which none of the petitioners were invited. At this press conference attempts were made to fool the public, pretending that the Plant Breeders Bill has nothing to do with GMOs. Various radio interviews, and statements by several members of the committee have systematically sought to bastardize the petitions and to defend the Bill as it stands, without paying any due attention to the fundamental concerns in these petitions. And, it appears, without having read the contents of the bill.

Again, on Thursday, 19th June 2014, the 1st Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ebow Burton-Oduro, drew the attention of the House to a report to be delivered by the Committee on the Plant Breeders’ Bill, as directed by the Speaker, before proceeding with its passage. To everybody’s surprise, Hon. Musaka Mubarak, NDC MP for Asawaso, and Majority Chief Whip, rose to his feet to declare that the Committee would present an “oral report”!

We were of the view that after Hon. Paapa Owusu-Ankomah, NPP, MP for Sekondi, had pointed out that it was a “straight-forward matter” and that a “written report” was exactly what was required, the Committee would comply with that, to enable civil society organisations assess how their petitions to Parliament had been treated. Unfortunately, after one whole year of back and forth, Mr. Bagbin chose to present an oral report in which he attempted to rubbish the petitions.

Why is Mr. Bagbin claiming we were made “aware of some of the proposed amendments that the Committee had made and some of the rationale behind some of the provisions”, when nothing of the sort happened? Why is his Committee refusing to make public the records of the proceedings of our meeting with them? Is he suggesting that our fundamental objection to the UPOV-compliant plant variety protection (PVP) regime was relaxed? We insist 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 ofplant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Sui generis means “unique to Ghana” system of protection.  A sui generis system will address what Ghanaian farmers actually need now, not what megacorporations want to impose on Ghana. We stand fundamentally opposed to any legislation that will make Ghana to cede her sovereignty over our food to faceless multinational corporations under the guise of joining UPOV. We do not need UPOV!

It has to be obvious to all Ghanaians that Mr. Bagbin has indeed done a shoddy job! The very fact that the Speaker again, for the third time, asked the Committee to do broader consultations “given the level of public comments” on the matter is the clearest testament of failure to properly represent the concerns of Ghanaians by this recalcitrant lawmaker. His behaviour obviously raises many an eye-brow!

There are only two ways to look at it: either Mr. Bagbin fails to comprehend the issues for reasons best known to himself, or he is radically corrupt. Since we take the view that he qualified to be a Member of Parliament on the basis of demonstrably being of a sound mind, we suspect corruption. Hence our call for independent investigations. This call is buttressed by no other person but by Mr. Bagbin himself, when he recently made the startling confession at a seminar in Koforidua that “some Members of Parliament (MPs) take bribes to articulate the views of some individuals and organisations on the floor of Parliament”.

The story broke out at a two-day seminar organised by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, a donor-funded organisation which seeks to promote an enabling environment for the development and growth of the private sector through advocacy, and STAR Ghana, another such organisation. in Koforidua.

Present at the seminar were representatives of 40 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which had sought to influence policy by having laws passed or changing the laws thought to be “inimical to national development”. The matter came out in the open, that “some participants who had dealt with some of the country’s legislators alleged that they had paid bribes to MPs to carry out their law-making functions”.

We know from the experiences in other countries to feel deeply worried about the murky world of the Monsanto lobby. For example, In Canada, “Veterinary scientists from Health Canada’s Human Safety Division testified … ‘We have been pressured and coerced to pass drugs of questionable safety, … officials from Monsanto Inc., the drug’s manufacturer, made an offer of between $1 million and $2 million to the scientists from Health Canada  — an offer that … could only have been interpreted as a bribe”

The mess that has characterized the passage of the bill, and the unprecedented abandonment of Parliamentary procedure was captured in the comments of the Speaker when he opined:

“I understand you perfectly that at the consideration stage we can’t move to second consideration stage. But if it’s not a procedure that will breach the Constitution, if we can find a way of dealing with our Standing Orders so that those issues can be discussed to pave way comfortably for the consideration stage, I urge for further consultation so that tomorrow we can take it”.

The question independent investigators must ask should include why Mr. Bagbin is misleading our Parliament by false pretences in order to pass the most reactionary law in the entire 500 years of Slavery and Colonialism? The Bill is perhaps the most outrageous encroachment of our sovereignty since the Crown Lands Bill of 1896 and the Lands Bill of 1897, which triggered the formation of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society!

Does Mr. Bagbin care so little for our beloved Ghana that he would offer dominion over our laws and lands to foreign corporations, with no protection for Ghanaians? Mr. Bagbin advocates passage of the Plant Breeders Bill including the infamous Clause 23 that cedes legal control of Ghana’s seeds and food supply to the domination of foreign corporations. Does he care so little for the lives and well-being of Ghana’s farmers that he advocates Clause 58, that criminalizes farmers if they save and use their own seeds? Does he really wish so much harm to Ghana that he advocates Clause 23?

Mr. Bagbin is clearly biting more than he can chew if he thinks he can ignore the wise counsel of civil society organisations, including faith-based organisations representing over 90% of Ghanaians! According to the proverb, “The one who swallows a coconut, trusts his anus”. The Majority Leader, Hon.Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, Member of Parliament (MP) for Nadowli/Kaleo, quite obviously has an exaggerated confidence in the ability of his anus to deliver such a huge political coconut as he attempted to swallow publicly in Parliament last week!

We urgently call on Parliament to constitute an independent judicial inquiry to enable Parliament redeem its dented image caused by this sordid affair!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
2014-01-28 09.41.40

November 10, 2014
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Reject Clause 23: A Monsanto Law To Subjugate Ghana!

It has come to our attention that the Plant Breeders’ Bill PBB, appears on the Parliamentary Business Statement for the Second Week Ending Friday, 14, November, 2014. We therefore seek to take this opportunity to to call on Parliament to do the right thing and reject the Plant Breeders’ Bill in its current form. We consider it an indictment on Ghana’s Parliament that such an extremely bad  bill could even travel through the First and Second Readings to reach the Consideration Stage!

It would be recalled that following numerous complaints and Petitions to the Parliament, opposing the bill, the Speaker of Parliament, Right Honourable Edward Doe Adjaho referred the matter to the Leadership of the House. As we keenly await the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the petitions sent to Parliament opposing the PBB, we wish to examine the instructions of the Speaker to the committee. In his instructions, the Speaker was reported as having stated:

“I have received a number of petitions relating to the Genetically Modified Organisms and the Plant Breeders Bill. I have also taken note of the fact that the Biosafety Act, Act 831 which was enacted in 2011 made provisions for the establishment of a regulatory body that is the National Biosafety Authority to deal with most of the concerns raised in those on the Genetically Modified Organisms. Indeed the objectives of the Act provided in section 2 are:

(a) To ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of safe development transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms resulting from biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on health and the environment and

(b) To establish a transparent and predictable process to review and make decision on genetically modified organisms specified in paragraph (a) and related activities.

I would therefore refer this matter to the Leadership to consider and advise the Chair accordingly.

We find the reasons given by the Speaker to be sufficiently alarming and misleading. Apart from the issues with the imposition of GMOs on Ghanaians without any public awareness and participation, there were also substantial matters raised pertaining to intellectual property rights – IPRs.

We wish to take this opportunity to re-iterate some of these points, as the reasons the Speaker presents show him to be ignorant of the contents of the petitions, and he appears not to have read, or not to understand the contents of the Plant Breeders Bill.

The reason why the Plant Breeders Bill is crucial in itself is because it awards so much power over Ghana to agribusiness Trans-National Corporations, TNCs. It is important for their GMOs because the TNCs will not fully release GMOs into Ghana until the Plant Breeders Bill is in place.That is because the Plant Breeders Bill protects the TNCs’ Intellectual Property Rights. IPR or IP, Intellectual property rights, give the corporations their legal power over Ghana. It is the IPRs that will award the TNCs monopoly control over Ghana’s agriculture. Some have called this colonialism by Intellectual Property.

For example, at the meeting with the Parliamentary Committee  on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, on Wednesday, 4th December, 2013, Food Sovereignty Ghana FSG made several appeals. One of them was a call on the Parliament to delete Clause 23:

”23 Measures regulating commerce.
A  plant breeder right shall be independent of any measure taken by the  Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and  marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”

The objections by FSG to this particular clause were unassailable. And to date, Parliament has failed to make the records of our meeting public! The FSG petition recommends “ix/ Delete Section 23 on Measures  regulating commerce.” FSG position to Parliament was that it is important for the Bill  to be coherent with other legislation and national interests such as the  protection of environment, health, prevention of misappropriation of  genetic resources etc.

We argued that the inclusion of Clause 23 hinders the ability to achieve such coherence as it views the grant of PBR as being independent from other regulations. Our point was that in certain cases it may be important to refuse to grant PBR over a variety, particularly where national interests are at stake. Such situations include not granting PBR on varieties that are injurious to public health, environment etc or where the application does not  disclose the origin of the genetic material.” See: COMMUNIQUÉ: FSG Meets Parliament Over Plant Breeders’ Bill | Food Sovereignty Ghana http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/communique-fsg-meets-parliament-over-plant-breeders-bill/

If, as the Speaker claims, the Biosafety Act, takes care of our concerns, why make the rights of the Plant Breeder “independent of the laws of Ghana”, which necessarily include the Biosafety Act, rather than “subject to the laws of Ghana”? There is nothing in this Bill that shows that the Plant Breeders’ rights are even subject to the laws on Biosafety, since they are “independent” of our laws!There is nothing in the Bill that subjects the rights of the plant breeder to the Biosafety Authority. If the Speaker is not throwing dust into our eyes, we challenge him to point out the relevant section of the present bill that specifically subjects the rights of the plant breeder to the Biosafety Authority!

And whilst he is at it, we also call on the Speaker to show which section of the Bill allows the Biosafety Authority to “regulate within Ghana the production, certification and  marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material” since the bill makes these rights of the plant breeder independent of any law of the land!
We insist and demand that clause 23 be amended to read:

”23 Measures regulating commerce.
A  plant breeder right shall be subject to any measure taken by the  Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and  marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”

This change is crucial, if Ghana is to escape needless litigations and inevitable judgement debts, as well as the theft of our sovereignty by unscrupulous and rapacious foreign multinational corporations!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

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October 30, 2014
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We await a response from Nana Akufo-Addo!

Fellow countrymen,

It has been a long while we have been asking the NPP Presidential candidate for the 2016 elections to come out clearly on the imposition of GMOs and the Plant Breeders’ Bill on Ghanaians by the NDC-led Administration of President John Mahama.

It appears, despite their differences, the two are in bed on this very controversial issue. The silence of Nana Akufo-Addo is deafening! We are therefore calling on all Ghanaians who eat food and care about the quality of the food they eat, irrespective of party political affiliations, to make their voices heard!

If you are on Twitter, kindly help us get the message across. Each time it is retweeted, he is notified. What we need to get his attention is a Twitter storm!

STOP UPOV912

October 15, 2014
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Save Ghana’s sovereignty and our food supply!

6830460274747_5392140894869
WORLD FOOD DAY MESSAGE
Wednesday, 15th October, 2014,

As the world celebrates the World Food Day, today, Wednesday, 15th October, 2014, we call on our Parliamentarians to ponder seriously on a major threat facing Ghanaians, our environment, our health, biodiversity, national security, and our sovereignty as a people. This threat is the Plant Breeders Bill, smuggled to Parliament by unseen hands and particularly, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, known by its French acronym, (Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales) as UPOV.

The Agribusiness Trans-National Corporations, TNCs, will not release GMOs into Ghana until the Plant Breeders Bill is in place. That is because the Plant Breeders Bill protects the TNCs’ Intellectual Property Rights, IPR or IP, Intellectual Property. It is the IPRs that will give the TNCs monopoly control over Ghana’s agriculture. Some have called this colonialism by Intellectual Property. The Plant Breeders Bill is a trade agreement that allows the Agribusiness TNCs monopoly control of Ghana’s agriculture through the use of Intellectual Property rights. As Economics Professor Michael Perelman points out (nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/globalization-free-trade-and-food-as-a-strategic-weapon.html):

“… intellectual property agreements … are antithetical to trade, in general, because they grant monopoly status, which allows suppliers to set their own price without competition. … Free trade treaties’ treatment of intellectual property is more accurately described as a transfer of power, rather than a promotion of free trade.”

The PBB will allow corporations to limit what Ghana’s government can do, while Ghana’s government will lose power to limit what corporations can do within Ghana. See the infamous Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill that allows foreign corporations to govern in Ghana, as follows: “A plant breeder right shall be independent of any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”

If Ghana passes the Plant Breeders Bill it gives away control of its agriculture, and gives away its control of its own food supply for nothing but empty promises. The Plant Breeders Bill makes a gift of Ghana’s land and agriculture to the Agribusiness TNCs. With this law, the TNCs can flood Ghana with GMOs and demand Ghana pay the price they set.

Many of Ghana’s politicians and scientists think the PBB will bring investment. All investment it brings will be extractive investment, growing huge monocultures of pesticide-saturated crops for export. Any new seeds developed by Ghanaian scientists will ultimately be owned by the Agribusiness TNCs who have the money, and power under the PBB, to acquire whatever they want, and take the profits out of Ghana.

The Plant Breeders Bill does not consider the rights of indigenous farmers. Indeed whilst it puts the rights of the corporate plant breeder above the laws of Ghana, the rights of the Ghanaian farmer are placed under the discretion of the Minister of Agriculture. The PBB makes it a criminal offence for a farmer to sell, market and or propagate any seed that even through open seed propagation can be found on his farm without authorisation of the breeder.

Already Monsanto, along with Syngenta, Dupont, and other Agribusiness TNCs are buying up African seed companies (theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2592946/big_biotechs_african_seed_takeover.html). Most of the local and regional African seed companies were created by farmers to market seeds developed locally in African countries. The TNCs will claim IPRs for these seeds, pirating their DNA and claiming it as their creation, stealing decades and centuries of work by African farmers in order extract the profits from African countries. Then they will sell the seeds back to the farmers, charging whatever price they wish.

The Plant Breeders Bill permits and encourages Agribusiness TNCs to pirate Ghana’s seeds in this same way, forcing Ghanaians to buy them back. This is why Ghana’s farmers and scientists can never profit from this bill. The Agribusiness TNCs will own and claim all rights to the farmers’ seeds.


GMOs are a poor option for investors, certainly not worth giving up Ghana’s sovereignty to corporations, as the Plant Breeders Bill will force Ghana to do. Portfolio 21, a US based investment service has prepared a document explaining why GM farming is a poor option for investors. (portfolio21.com/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2014/10/Portfolio-21-The-Case-Against-GMOs.pdf)

“Purveyors of transgenic products claim that GM farming boosts yields and farming incomes by saving on fossil fuels, pesticides, and labor. Another claim arising from this assumption is that GM farming represents a step toward environmental sustainability by decreasing emissions and the use of agricultural chemicals. GM advocates also maintain that these products pose no health risks to either the farmers or consumers.

None of these arguments have held up over extended periods of use or in the face of independent testing. Pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops (by far the most widely used GM varieties) actually lead to an increase in pesticide and herbicide use over time horizons of as little as four years.

Financial gains, which farmers make through increased yields, are offset by increased spending on patented seeds, fertilizer, and herbicides or pesticides, leading to a net decrease in income for all but the largest mega-farms. These higher input costs are especially damaging when small, more marginal farmers experience crop failure. Elevated levels of bankruptcy and consolidation have frequently occurred following the deployment of GM crops.

Perhaps the most pervasive argument for GM crops is centred on the message that these crops are needed to “feed the world.” The underlying assumptions of this argument, however, are simply incorrect. At current levels of global production, there is enough food for every person on earth to have 3,000 calories per day.”

Let Ghana govern Ghana! Save Ghana’s sovereignty and our food supply! Defeat the Plant Breeders Bill!

Jason Tutu
Communications Lead, FSG

Email: <info@foodsovereigntyghana.org>,
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

STOP UPOV912

September 30, 2014
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GMOs, Blackmail and Lies, Pressures To Pass the Plant Breeders Bill

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By Food Sovereignty Ghana

Parliament still appears determined to defy democracy, defy the will of the Ghanaian people, and pass the Plant Breeders Bill. The Parliament of Ghana, is expected to resume for the Third Meeting of the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament on or around October 21, 2014. The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is expected to present a report on the Petitions on the Plant Breeder’s Bill, 2013, to Parliament. On the basis of this report, Parliament may decide on the next steps. It would be recalled that following numerous petitions submitted to the House, the Speaker referred the matter to the Leadership of the House for consideration and advice.

Thereafter, a press conference was organised at which none of the petitioners were invited. At this press conference attempts were made to fool the public, pretending that the Plant Breeders Bill has nothing to do with GMOs. Various radio interviews, and statements by several members of the committee have systematically sought to bastardize the petitions and to defend the Bill as it stands, without paying any due attention to the fundamental concerns in the petitions.

We have every reason to believe that Parliament is being blackmailed by USAID and the G8/G7 whose intention is to advance the interests of their agribusiness Trans National Corporations, TNCs. Their tool is the G8 New Alliance, G8NA. They clearly do not care about Ghana.

IMF funds are almost certainly being held hostage waiting for passage of the Plant Breeders Bill. We know from the experience of other countries that Millennium Challenge Account payments are tied to GMOs and GMO related bills, such as our Plant Breeders Bill. We know promised money may be withheld from Ghana pending the coerced passage of the bill.

Some MPs claim, or have been misled to believe, that Ghana must pass the UPOV-bill as it stands, to be in compliance with the World Trade Organization, the WTO. This is NOT the case. We do not need to be part of UPOV. Developing countries such as Ghana have full rights under the WTO to pass their own sui generis bill. This simply means that Ghana can design a bill that will meet the specific needs of our country and protect Ghanaian farmers and Ghanaian plant breeders.

Our farmers are the first breeders and their rights come first. It will not help Ghana to protect the interests of Agribusiness corporations which the current Plant Breeders Bill puts above the laws of Ghana. Uganda’s Parliament has listened carefully to its people and recently rejected a similar seed law that is part of the G8 New Alliance, G8NA, agriculture package, as is Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill. Uganda has been under the same USAID agribusiness pressures as Ghana. Is Ghana less a democracy than Uganda?

Some Ghanaian scientists, along with our MPs, think the bill will protect the work of Ghanaian scientists. The intellectual property, IP, protections in the Plant Breeders Bill are unlikely to protect any Ghanaians or Ghanaian interests. The way this works in developed countries is that the corporations buy the scientists’ companies, or fund the research done by the scientists. That will be easier for them to do in Ghana. By contract, the TNCs then own the IP rights to the scientists’ discoveries. Someone will profit, but it won’t be the scientists.

Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill allows anyone in any country in the UN to own the property rights to Ghana’s seeds and operate from outside Ghana, taking with them all profits. Ghanaian farmers and smallholders cannot compete with TNCs in the courts for IP rights to their seeds. Far from protecting farmers, IP rights are likely to raise the cost of seed so it becomes prohibitive, and the minimal protections for farmers as plant breeders in the bill are so weak and ill defined as to be useless.

In India, the price of Bt cotton seeds went up 8000% after GMOs and IP protection was introduced and enforced. The price of patented GMO Bt cotton seeds is already prohibitive for small farmers in Burkina Faso. Farmers will not be able to save and reuse seeds of protected varieties. If the Bill is passed, farmers will not be able to freely save, reuse, share, sell, and exchange seeds as they have done for millennia.

As has happened in other countries, this corporate welfare IP protection will price farmers out of the market, and most will end up landless in the city slums. The poor of Ghana will be subsidizing Trans National Corporations under this bill. Under the Plant Breeders Bill, a TNC can take Ghanaian seeds, make some minimal alteration in the laboratory and claim those seeds as its own, supposedly the creation of the foreign corporation, protected by intellectual property rights.

The infamous Clause 23 of the bill puts the rights of corporations above the laws of Ghana, to be decided by a tribunal of “business-friendly” Judges. Will those corporate judges protect the interests of Ghana’s farmers and scientists? Or will they follow the interests of the corporations who pay their lavish fees. Will the safe and healthy foods we know become a thing of the past due to corporate intellectual property rights?

When it comes to the Plant Breeders Bill you might think Ghana is a one party state. The elites of our political parties all seem intent on passing the Plant Breeders Bill despite public outcry. The Ghanaian people do not want this bill! Is Ghana independent? Is Ghana a democracy? Let your MP know! Let Parliament know what Ghanaians want! Defeat the Plant Breeders Bill!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

No Food Shall Be Grown..

September 16, 2014
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Attorney-General Must Withdraw The “Monsanto Law”!

By Food Sovereignty Ghana

From all indications, the first item on the agenda of our Parliament, after the recess, in October this year, is going to be the consideration of the infamous Plant Breeders’ Bill, otherwise known all over the world, as the “Monsanto Law”.

What this means is that the Parliamentary sub-committee on Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs will be expected to present a report to the floor of the House on the various petitions received by the House, as directed by the Speaker.

The problem is that judging from the various pronouncements of several MPs on this Committee, the mood is clearly one of going ahead to pass the Bill in spite of the overwhelming public opposition to it. In order to do so, it is expected that the report would attempt to rubbish the concerns raised in these petitions as baseless and unfounded, as they have been doing in interviews and Press Conferences.

A crucial issue we call on the public to keep a keen eye on is the fact of the illegitimacy of the bill itself. This was beautifully highlighted in the petition presented by more than 50 international CSOs and NGOs. A reading of that particular petition shows clearly that the accompanying Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill sent to Parliament by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, was at best, based on false premises, or at worst, designed to mislead the House in favour of the Bill. See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! :

“The Bill is modeled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection (PVP). It is worth noting that today out of the 71 UPOV members, only a fraction – about 22 developing countries are members of UPOV. Most of these developing countries (e.g. Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa) and even some developed countries (e.g. Norway) are not members of UPOV 1991 but rather UPOV 1978, which is a far more flexible regime.

Ghana has full flexibility under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs. In view of this, it is truly unfortunate and even irrational that instead of designing a PVP regime that reflects the agricultural framework and realities of Ghana as some other countries have done (e.g. India, Thailand, Ethiopia), Ghana is choosing to adopt and be bound by UPOV 1991 without any concrete evidence or impact assessment of the necessity and impacts of adopting such a regime.”

In the Memorandum accompanying the Bill, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, dated 28th May, 2013 states:

“The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which resulted from the negotiations of the Uruguay Round requires contracting parties to protect varieties either by patent or by an effective sui generic system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems which is the plant breeders rights system.”

Without any explanation, she goes further to indicate:

“Clause 1 of the Bill defines the scope of application of the Bill. Ghana has opted to apply the requirement for compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961 and subsequently revised on November 10th, 1972, on 23rd October, 1978 and on 19th March, 1991.” See: Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill 2013 Publications | Parliament of Ghana.

Her words are so misleading as to be a lie. UPOV is harmful and unnecessary:

“The Memorandum to the Bill falsely argues that farmers have the right to use protected varieties as a source for further research and breeding activities. In actual fact under the Bill, if a protected variety is used for further breeding and where the variety developed from the protected variety is an essentially derived variety (EDVs), breeders’ rights extend to the EDVs. This concept of EDVs is highly contentious and uncertain. Many advanced developed countries are still grappling with this concept and its implementation. What is or is not an EDV is a question already under extensive litigation and court and arbitration disputes. These types of provision favor multinationals, which have immense financial resources at the expense of farmers and even local breeders.  In the US Monsanto has attempted to crush farmers and local breeders in the courts. It is not necessary to include such a provision in the PVP legislation. Many developing countries with successful PVP regimes do not incorporate such a clause in their national legislation.”

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong further argues in the Memorandum that:

“The Bill seeks to acknowledge the achievements of breeders of new varieties by making available to them an exclusive right on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles. This will promote the growth of the seed industry and safeguard the lawful right and interest of plant breeders. Furthermore, the Bill seeks to regulate the production, offer for sale, sale, marketing and advertisement of new varieties. The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which resulted from the negotiations of the Uruguay Round requires contracting parties to protect varieties either by patent or by an effective sui generic system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems which is the plant breeders rights system. The plant breeder rights system permits farmers to save and replant seed and provides them with the right to use protected varieties as a source of further research and breeding activities.”

This is a blatant falsehood! The Ministry of Justice is rushing to impose UPOV on Ghana without any justification and on the basis of lies. Mrs Grace Ishaque, Principal State Attorney with Ministry of Justice in Ghana seems to be the main focal point on the matter. She represented Ghana at the ARIPO meeting in Malawi, where she told those campaigning against UPOV that “it is the farmers that want Ghana to implement UPOV 1991″!  Anyone who knows any farmers knows that is a lie.

Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Sui generis means “unique to Ghana” system of protection.  A sui generis system will address what Ghanaian farmers actually need now, not what megacorporations want to impose on Ghana.   This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection (PVP), UPOV is rigidly hostile to small farmers and entirely unnecessary. Ghana needs its own sui generis system tailored to the needs of our farmers and plant breeders.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!


Jason Tutu
Communications Lead, FSG

Email: <info@foodsovereigntyghana.org>, 
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana 
Screenshot from 2014-09-09 13:18:09

September 9, 2014
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Kufuor In Search of GMO Per Diems!

By Food Sovereignty Ghana
Screenshot from 2014-09-09 13:18:09

On 31st August, 2014, former president John Agyekum Kufuor was visibly miss­ing in action during the New Patriotic Party’s (NPPs) Special Delegates’ Congress to prune the number of the party’s presidential candidates from seven to five. He was on his way attending the 2014 African Green Revolution Forum, 01-04 September 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The former President would have the whole world to believe that his absence at the Engineering Auditorium at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he was supposed to cast his vote was for what his spokesperson, Mr. Frank Agyekum called “strategic reasons”.

The truth of the matter is that he was physically present at Addis Ababa, where a substantial per diem was awaiting him. Instead of saying the truth, he preferred to put a spin on his absence by claiming neutrality, Mr. Frank Agyekum, spokesperson for the former President, had stated that his boss took the position not to vote because he sees himself as a statesman.

“He is part of the process but he is not voting because he sees himself as an elder statesman on both na­tional and party affairs. The process and the tensions in the NPP as it is today, it is best if he doesn’t show his support for one candidate or the other.”

Mr. Kufour was however seen in the Ethiopian capital campaigning for the introduction of GM foods in Africa, under guise of what he called “climate-smart agriculture”! According to the ex-president, speaking in a panel discussion of the ‘Global Panel on Agriculture for Food Systems and Nutrition’ at the 2014 African Green Revolution Forum, “Agriculture is now under sustained threat from Climate Change and hence the call for Climate-Smart Agriculture,”

Mr. Kufuor’s per diem was paid for by the GMO Green Revolution sponsors.  We do not begrudge him for ditching his party and going in pursuit of per diems with a pack of lies. What we take strong exception to is the rather mischievous manner he seeks to return the GMO favour by spouting GMO lies about helping fight climate change and producing larger yields. 

Even if the highly questionable claims of increases in food or crop yields, or drought-resistant flood-resistant GM crops were true, the ever increasing amounts of pesticide toxins they contain should prohibit their production or use. Toxic food, regardless of abundance, does not replace safe and edible food.

GMOs contain massive quantities of pesticides, a huge health threat. Close to 100% of all commercial GMO crops are genetically engineered to contain pesticides, or to absorb huge amounts of pesticides without being killed. When we consume the plants, or eat animals that consume the plants, we consume those pesticides that can injure heart, lungs, nerves, digestion, blood, skin, immunity, and sexual function and development.

GMOs, and the legal framework that permits and sustains them, are not business as usual but an orchestrated attempt to control our food, our land, our water. GMOs and their legal framework offer foreign corporations permanent control over our destiny as individuals and as a nation.  These laws, the Biosafety Act, Seed Laws, and UPOV laws such as the Plant Breeders Bill are sometimes referred to as weapons of legal destruction.  They place corporate interests and greed above the laws of nations. They leave the entire budgets of nations vulnerable to corporate whims.

For 20 years these chemical corporations behind the GM scam have been selling herbicides and pesticides as part of food and doing very little to produce any plant that increases yield, and produced none that are climate-smart. Mr. Kufour continues his legacy of trying to sell Ghana to the west for his own profit, and is willing to destroy Ghana’s agriculture and small farmers in the process.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!


Jason Tutu
Communications Lead, FSG

Email: <info@foodsovereigntyghana.org>, 
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana 

September 2, 2014
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GMO Lies and Outdated Science

By Food Sovereignty Ghana
Ghana’s MPs, USAID and its contractors, and their GMO tame scientists all remain committed to passing the Plant Breeders Bill and imposing GMOs on Ghanaian farmers and public. They expect the public to unquestioningly respect this outdated science as if it were the word of God. Those who love and appreciate science know that what is known is never final.  The known is always the starting point for asking new and more questions, seeking facts, and drawing conclusions based on data driven analysis.  The GMO perpetrators hate genuine science, it often gives them information they do not want people to know, information that endangers their profits and monopoly control.

The GMO perpetrators lie to journalists and the public about the Plant Breeders Bill, pretending it will not enable domination of Ghana’s agriculture by foreign corporations.  The bill will take away our sovereignty and allow the theft of our Ghanaian seed DNA.  They lie about the accomplishments of GMOs, with claims about yields and adapting to climate change.  They lie about the benefits to small holder farmers, when all the evidence from countries that have tried GMOs shows us that the high price of the seeds and chemical inputs puts small holder farmers out of business.   GMOs yield profits only with large scale mechanized agriculture that throws people out of work and off their land.   That is what they plan for Ghana, to sell our land out from under us so it can be used for chemical agriculture that poisons people and the environment.

GMOs were designed by chemical companies and they have only one trick: pesticides.  They either contain pesticides in every cell of the plant, or they are designed to absorb massive quantities of applied pesticides without killing the plant.  Either way, these pesticides fill the environment and are passed into the food chain.

The GMO hucksters want you to think science tells us we need GMOs.  The science supporting GMOs is more than 20 years old.  It has been left in the dust by more recent science that demonstrates the importance of diversity, by Agroecology, and by marker assisted breeding that can actually accomplish the things that GMO perpetrators have claimed but failed to accomplish. The big chemical agriculture corporations, led by Monsanto, have done their best to suppress  independent research on GMOs, and have viciously attacked any scientist who publishes results not to their liking.  The strong resistance (including from governments) to GMOs in Europe is based on science.

The GMO perpetrators are importing GMO seed into Ghana and engaging in field trials without permission or supervision even from the so-called Biosafety Authority, which has not yet been constituted.  The Biosafety Authority is the only body that can legally grant that permission, yet there are GMOs already growing in our lands in Ghana!

Food Sovereignty Ghana remains committed to genuine principles of scientific inquiry.  We remain committed in our opposition to the Plant Breeders Bill.  We remain committed to the preservation of Ghana’s sovereignty and the integrity of our seed DNA which our Parliament so carelessly wishes to give away.   We urge all Ghanaians to educate themselves on these issues and let your MP know your thoughts.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!–
Jason Tutu
Communications Lead, FSG

Email: <info@foodsovereigntyghana.org>, 
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana 

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August 6, 2014
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GMO supporters silence debate

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By Food Sovereignty Ghana, Wednesday, 6th August, 2014

On August 7 the University of Cape Coast is hosting a forum on GMOs. This is not a genuine debate, but a collection of speakers who are all invested in the pro-GMO biotechnology industry through their careers and their education. They are not neutral or objective observers and will present only one side of the debate. They are not interested in finding the truth, unlike genuine scientists, and do not want to allow any opinions but their own.

The organizers will call these forums they organize neutral platforms to facilitate intellectual discourse. They will then present an entirely one sided roster of speakers and censor any actual intellectual debate. If called out on this flagrant prevention of any actual discussion or debate, they behave puzzled and hurt, like they don’t understand why anyone would be annoyed.

The speakers are all closely associated with the donors who are promoting GMOs into Ghana. Donors play the critical role in introducing GMOs into African countries.

“[T]hey fund research projects and pay staff salaries, they create and support regulatory institutions, they dictate research priorities and direction, and they construct and fund promotional campaigns. While the money comes from elsewhere, intellectual allies in [Ghana] carry out most of the work: research scientists and lobbyists become enrolled in the campaign for biotechnology, advancing the interests of donors who fund their salaries and programs. These organic intellectuals serve the interests of the dominant class to which they belong, acting as ideological deputies who facilitate and enable the consolidation of the hegemonic project by generating widespread consent and collapsing society’s general interests with their own … In this way ‘a particular ideology… born in a highly developed country, is disseminated in less developed countries, impinging on the local interplay of combinations’.

While multilateral organizations (such as the World Bank) and philanthropic organizations (such as the Gates Foundation) all play significant roles in sustaining the consensus towards GM, USAID is, by far, the most important actor funding, coordinating, and advancing the interests of the biotechnology bloc.”

The lead organization in this donor driven GMO push is USAID working with the Program for Biosafety Systems, PBS.

“PBS is an IFPRI-managed program (International Food Policy Research Institute), formed in 2002 and funded through USAID’s Collaborative Biotechnology Initiative (CABIO).” They operate in a number of African countries targeted by the biotechnology agribusiness industry as insertion points for GMOs into Africa. Ghana is one of these targeted countries. In Ghana, keep in mind, “USAID is, by far, the most important actor funding, coordinating, and advancing the interests of the biotechnology bloc.” USAID has been tasked by the G8 to promote GMOs into Ghana in the guise of The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Ghana.

According to a new working paper published by the World Policy Forum, the approach and objectives of the G8 New Alliance, G8NA, are highly problematic. The initiative serves as an enforcing mechanism for corporate driven blueprints for agriculture and sidelines national plans and international standards. It is dominated and tailored towards the interests of big corporate actors and is based on a reductionist approach of agricultural “development”. And lastly, the G8NA is poorly institutionalized and disregards fundamental principles of transparency participation and accountability.

We have seen how little the GMO proponents want any participation from citizens, and want no accountability to the public in Ghana with the way legislation such as the Plant Breeders Bill has been pushed through Parliament.
During the G8NA introduction of GMOs into Uganda, when articles in the Uganda press pointed out some of the unpleasant truths about GMOs, at first scientists wrote their own counter articles. Then the “PBS’ Coordinator felt these knee-jerk responses were a mistake, … ‘it becomes a debate and we don’t want that’”.

The same is true in Ghana. The pro-GMO position is they do not want a debate. Remember that, pro-GMO interests do not want debate. Just as independent testing of GMOs is prohibited by contract and therefore by law, pro-GMO interests don’t want debate because it may reveal unpleasant truths.

These forums were set up precisely to avoid any genuine debate. In the three day forum in July sponsored by GAAS only one speaker was not a supporter of GMOs. The rest of the speakers were uniformly in support of GMOs. No speaker discussed the needs of the farmers, and farmers were not permitted to speak. One scientist speaking said no one would want their children to be farmers.

The August 7 forum appears to be more of the same, a one sided presentation masquerading as debate.

Agriculture scientists depend on agribusiness and the donor organizations for their education and project funding. If they don’t support GMOs where will they find employment? The government needs agricultural expertise, but as recent events reveal, the government has no money. So we don’t blame the scientists for clinging to the hope that GMOs give them. That does not change the fact that we need to hear more voices and need a balanced debate.

When will Ghanaian farmers, consumers and citizens be heard!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!


Jason Tutu
Communications Lead, FSG

Email: <info@foodsovereigntyghana.org>, 
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana 

All quotations come from a study of how genetically modified crops are inserted into African markets, done in Uganda by Matthew A. Schnurr, and published in the:Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 40, 2013
Biotechnology and bio-hegemony in Uganda: Unraveling the social relations underpinning the promotion of genetically modified crops into new African markets pp 639-658
Corporate influence through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa
Working paper
Author: Wolfgang Obenland
Published by Global Policy Forum/Brot für die Welt/MISEREOR
Aachen/Berlin/Bonn/New York, August 2014
ISBN 978-3-943126-18-1
Download the Working Paper
http://bit.ly/1uNLuNK
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