Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

FSG in court

February 17, 2015
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Food Sovereignty Ghana was in court today.

Food Sovereignty Ghana was in court today.

Photo: FSG was in court today!</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Picture shows some of our members supporters, friends and Lawyer Wayo Tetteh at the High Court Accra. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Watch this space for more details...
Picture shows some of our members supporters, friends and Lawyer Wayo Tetteh at the High Court Accra.

Tuesday, 17th February, 2015

Today saw the beginning of what will likely be a landmark case regarding the future of genetically modified organisms, GMOS, in Ghana. The case filed by Food Sovereignty Ghana, FSG against the National Biosafety Committee, NBC, as the first defendant, and the Ministry of Food And Agriculture, MoFA, was called at the Human Right Division of the Fast Track High Court today, at 9.30am.

FSG was represented in court by Mr. George Tetteh Wayo, whilst the Attorney-General represented the defendants. The case was adjourned to the 3rd of March, to enable the defendants to put in their statement of case.

There was a little drama in court when the lawyer of the defendants tried to argue that because the Attorney-General had not been sued, hence they had not put in any defence. The judge then made it clear to them that it is the duty of the Attorney-General to to defend public institutions, so they have been hinted to file all necessary processes.

The judge also made it clear that there shall be less oral submissions. Both the 1st and 2nd defendants, as well as the FSG are supposed to file statements of case as well as supplementary statement of case, before the 3rd of March.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Acting Director of Communications

Communications Directorate, FSG
Email: info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Tel: +233 503 895 751
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

y17gxk3wvr_prof_walter_sandow_alhassan

February 16, 2015
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GMOs: Whose Interests Does Prof. Alhassan Represent?

Is Walter Alhassan Syngenta’s Agent in Ghana?

Food Sovereignty Ghana is shocked by the pronouncements of Prof. Walter Sandow Alhassan urging farmers to reject warnings from anti-GMO groups telling us that accepting GMOs will result in “seed colonisation and seed slavery”.

Prof. Alhassan was quoted as calling for groups like FSG to be “abhorred”, because, according to him, “those groups do not have any scientific proof or knowledge to offer when it comes to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology”.

In truth, Ghanaian farmers need to abhor and reject scientists laden with conflicts of interest. Monsanto and Syngenta are particularly greedy to get their hands on Ghana’s agriculture and control the seed market here. Professor Alhassan is their key servant helping to make this grab possible. Professor Alhassan is attempting to control the information farmers and the public see and hear just like the industry he represents.

Professor Alhassan has had most of his life and career funded by the biotech industry. Some by Monsanto, particularly his education and early history, and more later by Syngenta and the Syngenta Foundation.(1) Naturally he supports genetically modified organisms, GMOs. He has spent his entire life in their service. He is Syngenta’s man in Ghana.

“Today, large numbers of scientists are in the employ of Big Pharma, Big Ag, and all kinds of corporations with anti-environmental and anti-social justice agendas.”(2) Professor Alhassan is a key employee of Big Ag, and has been for his entire career.

“Monsanto and other multimillion-dollar agribusiness firms have been suppressing independent research on their genetically engineered crops for decades.”(2) And they lie about GMOs as well. Monsanto has just been forced to withdraw advertisements in South Africa because of unsubstantiated information and FALSE CLAIMS that GMO crops: “enable us to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially”. (3) None of these claims are true. Yet we hear Professor Alhassan and his network repeating these same lies over and over again and calling them science.

When Dr. Alhassan warns that anti GMO groups do not have any scientific proof or knowledge to offer when it comes to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) technology, and therefore should be abhorred, he is being deliberately untruthful and he knows it. In fact he is trying to suppress scientific inquiry and knowledge. More information on the dangers of GMO pesticide plants comes out everyday, this despite the fact that the biotechnology industry has done its best to suppress any studies or information that does not support industry claims.

Genetic engineering is about private corporate control of the food system. (4)

Right now Professor Alhassan and his corporate and academic cronies are trying to get Bt cowpeas into the Ghanaian market. Bt cowpeas are pesticides as are all Bt GMO plants. When Ghanaians eat Bt cowpeas they will be eating pesticides. In the US Bt plants are registered as pesticides by the USDA. When you eat any part of a Bt plant, you are eating a toxic pesticide. Although Bt does occur in nature, that is quite different than having a plant which contains Bt toxin in every cell of the plant.

With Bt in nature, and when used as a dust or spray in agroecological farming: “The ACTIVE TOXIN can only be found IN THE GUT OF THE INSECT” (5). The plant itself contains no Bt. If there is any residual spray or dust on the surface of the plant it can be washed off.

However, with the Bt in GMO cowpeas and all other Bt GMO plants: “ACTIVE TOXIN IS IN EVERY PLANT CELL AND TISSUE, ALL THE TIME and cannot be washed off. … As far as safety is concerned, the “active toxins are not easily degraded by gut enzymes and, since they are lectins, they all are very likely to bind to the wall of the mammalian/human gut.”(5) And that means they are likely to be processed into your body creating who knows what short term or long term health risks and dangers.

Those insects that are controlled and killed by the Bt in Bt GMO plants are likely to evolve a tolerance for the Bt toxin and come back stronger over time. Other opportunistic varieties of insect will take advantage of the lack of competition and move in to take the place of the former pests creating new super pests. That is happening in the US where GMOs have been around for 20 years. It is leading to more and stronger pesticides being used every year, endangering the health of humans and livestock, degrading and polluting the soil, water, and air across US farmlands.

It is particularly worrisome to have Bt cowpeas growing in Ghana, a species indigenous to West Africa. One of the things GMO crops do is contaminate neighboring crops with their pollen. Grown in quantity, GMO cowpeas could contaminate the entire region of West Africa. Because of this kind of contamination, Mexico banned growing Bt corn. If the Ghana Plant Breeders Bill is passed, it would allow the corporate GMO owners to claim all offspring of that contamination as their own property according to their intellectual property rights. They could force a farmer whose crop is contaminated to pay for the contaminated crop, to pay damages to the corporation! They could force farmers to destroy their crops. This is happening across the United States and in Canada where corporations are winning huge judgement debts against farmers. It is happening in other countries that have passed UPOV laws such as Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill. This is what Professor Alhassan intends to bring to Ghana’s farmers, claiming it is progress and calling it science. It is just old fashioned greed.

Contamination of the West African cowpea means the destruction of Ghana’s heritage, destruction of the seed DNA Ghana’s farmers, going back generations and centuries, have laboured to develop and preserve. This is biopiracy, made legal by the Plant Breeders Bill. Professor Walter Alhassan calls this destruction science. It is a tool by which “Corporations profit, Western governments gain control”(6) of Ghana, control of the entire West African region, and control of the continent of Africa.

Would you trust Professor Walter Alhassan to make decisions about what you eat? Do you trust Professor Alhassan and his recommended scientific cronies to tell you what to plant, or what seeds you are required to use? Whose best interests does Professor Alhassan represent?

Bibliography:

(1) Walter Alhassan http://www.syngentafoundation.org/index.cfm?pageID=688

(2) The New Scientism: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/the-new-scientism/

(3) Monsanto Forced To Pull Advertisement Because Someone Actually Fact-Checked Them http://www.dcclothesline.com/2015/02/07/monsanto-forced-pull-advertisement-someone-actually-fact-checked/

(4) Living with GMOs – www.theletterfromamerica.org

(5) Bt in organic farming and GM plants – the difference : www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/40-2001/1058-bt-in-organic-farming-and-gm-crops-the-difference-

(6) The Re-Colonization of Africa http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/06/re-colonization-africa

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Acting Director of Communications

Communications Directorate, FSG
Email:
info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Tel: +233 503 895 751
Website:
http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

Legal suit

February 8, 2015
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FSG Sues Government Over GM Rice and Beans

Legal suit

We are happy to announce that Food Sovereignty Ghana has filed a writ of summons against the National Biosafety Committee NBC and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture MoFA, with an application for an interim injunction to restrain the recalcitrant defendants from any release and commercialization of genetically modified cowpeas and rice until the provisions of the Biosafety Act are expressly and fully obeyed. We are not only calling for an injunction on the commercialisation of GM rice and Bt cowpeas, but on all GM crops until the National Biosafety Authority is in place.

We have taken this action as a result of the fact that Ghanaians are being constantly bombarded with news items containing false claims that the attempts to impose GM rice and beans or our precious “waakye”, or the famous fried plantain and beans, alias “red red”, are being done in accordance with the law!

We maintain that this is certainly and evidently not the case. Our case is very simple. According to Section 13 of the Biosafety Act, 2011, Act 831, on the “The application to import or place on the market”, only the National Biosafety Authority has such a power to authorize the commercial release of GM foods in Ghana. The law says:

“13. ( 1) A person shall not, without the prior written approval of the Authority, import or place on the market a genetically modified organism.
(2) An application under subsection (1) shall include
(a) The information set out in the Third Schedule
(b) a risk assessment as set out in the Third Schedule, and
(c) any other information that the applicant may consider necessary for an assessment of the potential risks and benefits of the requested activity.”
[See: Ghana Biosafety Act 831 31 Dec 2011.pdf]

Now, we all know that the National Biosafety Authority does not even exist, because it is yet to be inaugurated. No appointments have been made and approved even for it, so under what authority are those undertaking these dangerous experiments doing so, and who is supervising them? Apparently, even the National Biosafety Committee has no power of its own apart from the authority of the Minister for Industries, Science and Technology, MIST.

Ghana is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Article 23 of the Protocol requires Parties, on their own and in cooperation with other States and international bodies, to promote and facilitate public awareness and education, including access to information, regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs). It also requires Parties to consult the public in the decision-making process, to make public the final decision taken and to inform public about the means of access to the Biosafety Clearing-House.

For example, currently in Malawi, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, (LUANAR) applied for confined field trials of Bt cowpea, the same crop that Savannah Research Institute, (SARI) has been investigating for years. Whilst a copy of the LUANAR is readily available, there is still no trace of the SARI application even weeks after asking specifically for it! Here is a copy of the LUANAR application: Bunda College Application for Confined Field Trial (CFT) of Bt-Cowpea | Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa AFSA http://afsafrica.org/bunda-college-application-for-confined-field-trial-cft-of-bt-cowpea/

Meanwhile, Section 11 (1) of the Act states very clearly that: “A person shall not conduct a contained or confined use activity involving genetically modified organisms or their development without the written approval of the Authority”. The law further stipulates in Section 42 (2) that “The Authority shall publish notices of final decisions concerning applications made under this Act in the Gazette and electronic and print media”, in order to ensure public awareness and participation. This is a far cry from the secrecy surrounding the experiments currently going on in Ghana!

We maintain that none of these provisions are being respected. It even appears that the so-called National Biosafety Committee is being run from the office of the Minister of Industries, Science and Technology. We were extremely surprised to read from the reaction of Mr. Eric Okoree, Secretary to the National Biosafety Committee, stating inter alia, that “I have printed the request and submitted it to the Minister’s Secretariat for his information as per the Civil Service Procedure . He will minute it down to the Secretariat for action to be taken.”!

Up till now, several weeks after calling for copies of the documents on risk assessment and risk management and benefits supporting the application by the Savanna Agricultural research Institute (SARI), for the approval of field trials of Bt cow peas submitted for approval, no such document has been forth-coming. Meanwhile this is the sort of information that must be voluntarily be made available to members of the Ghanaian public in accordance with the law.

We find the situation of lawlessness surrounding the imposition of GMOs on Ghanaians most alarming as bisosafety is a matter of life and death. The most fraudulent aspect of this is the fact that in spite of the flagrant infringement of the Biosafety Act, the scientists behind these dangerous experiments keep informing the public that everything is being done in accordance with the law.

For example, in Ghanaian scientists edge up with GM rice trials http://www.modernghana.com/news/594252/1/ghanaian-scientists-edge-up-with-gm-rice-trials.html, published on 24 January 2015, they claim that “The confined field trials started in April 2013 at Nobewam in the Ashanti region, after receiving approval from the National Biosafety Committee (NBC).”

Principal Investigator, Dr. Maxwell Asante, further informed the press that “If the lead event is confirmed, we will request for permission from the NBC to allow it to be grown by farmers in Ghana after testing. The genes that make the GM rice nitrogen-use efficient will then be transferred to other varieties in Ghana through conventional breeding methods,”

What is most worrisome is the fact these these perpetrators are aware of the fact that “There is strong opposition to the introduction of GM crops in Ghana’s food production chain.”

Alarmingly, we also read, “Biosafety advocate, Albert Aubyn, however says there is no cause for worry with the current trials, noting that field activities are strictly in conformity with regulative measures”.

The story by Kofi Adu Domfeh ends with the assurances that “Three confined field trials of rice, cowpea and cotton are currently being evaluated in Ghana in compliance with the Biosafety Act 2011, Act 831, which regulates GMOs”.

Meanwhile, according to the Section 13 of the Biosafety Act, 2011, Act 831, on the “The application to import or place on the market”, it is the non-existent National Biosafety Authority which has the power to authorise the commercialisation of GM foods in the country, and not the National Biosafety Committee.

We call on all Ghanaians who care about the safety and the quality of food they are putting into their bodies, to show keen interest in this matter and provide us with the moral and material support we need to prosecute this case which is set to be a David versus Goliath struggle.

For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!

George Tetteh Wayo, Esq.
Spokesperson on Legal Affairs
Communications Directorate, FSG

Tel: +233 503 895 751

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

unnamed

December 24, 2014
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Who’d ever think that we’d ever come thus far?

Lyrics: Who’d Ever Think That…?
See Attachment for audio

Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
Happy 2014!

Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
The Plant “Bleeders’” Bill is dead!

Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
Congratulations, everybody!

Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
We would ever come thus far?
Who’d ever think that we would ever come thus far?
The ball in now in your court!

i-do-not-want-your-gmo-i-do-not-like-you-monsanto

December 8, 2014
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GMO Peddlers – Fake Debates and Staged Symposia!

Food Sovereignty Ghana wishes to alert the public concerning the unrelenting attempts to impose GMOs on Ghanaians. The Plant Breeders Bill (PBB) has suffered a setback in Parliament, due mostly to the robust workings of Ghanaian democracy. A majority of the Ghanaian people are against the bill and have made their well-informed opinions known. However, powerful foreign governments, multinational corporations and foundations, Big Agribusiness, still want the bill passed. They have not stopped their efforts to force the PBB through Parliament and force their GMO seeds onto Ghanaians. They have too much money at stake.  Europe and even the United States are turning against GMOs.  Forcing GMOs  on Ghana and all of Africa is necessary for their financial survival, not for our survival.

Predictably, their next step will be a series of supposedly “educational” initiatives. They did the same thing last year, as soon as the PBB was confronted with numerous petitions and had to be withdrawn for further consultations. We therefore know from experience that the pro PBB/GMO forces will again sponsor forums in which they will extol the alleged virtues of seemingly miraculous GMO crops. They will call anti-GMO activists ignorant and anti-science. They will invoke Science as if science were a god and allege Science tells us we must have GMOs or die.  They will ignore or belittle the reasons we oppose GMOs.

The latest effort to fool Ghanaians about the Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs is a half day symposium offered on Wednesday, 10thDecember, 2014 at CLOSSAG Conference Room (Ministries) in Accra at 9:30am. This symposium is organized by the CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), under the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA).

DRUSSA is interesting. It is particularly active in Ghana and Uganda, both countries are major targets of the G8NA in the push to get GMOs into African countries. DRUSSA’s description of itself uses lots of fancy Big English to say they work closely with universities and academics in the target countries, and that they work with politicians, bringing academics and politicians together, using academics to try and influence public policy and legislation.

If you read about DRUSSA on their website, they tell us they get their funding from DFID. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) claims on its website that it “leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.” However, if you dig more deeply, you’ll find “that hundreds of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is being used to promote projects designed to benefit some of the world’s richest agribusiness corporations and to extend their control over the global food system. DFID is at the centre of an intricate nexus of corporations and donor-sponsored institutions seeking to maximise private profit from agriculture. Personal connections play a vital role, and there is a significant ‘revolving door’ of staff between DFID and agribusiness corporations, with the personal links going beyond DFID to the heart of the UK government and its economic policy. In addition, this report reveals DFID’s involvement in a network of private enterprises and investment fund managers incorporated in the secrecy jurisdiction of Mauritius. (http://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/the-hunger-games-how-dfid-support-for-agribusiness-is-fuelling-poverty-in-africa/)

In Ethiopia DFID is working tirelessly to increase extreme poverty.  DFID money is supporting the forced removal of people from their homes and farms and forced relocation to “villages” that have no resources and where they have no way to feed themselves. These forcible evictions are accomplished with assaults, beatings, rapes, and a variety of human rights abuses. The farmers’ land is appropriated for growing monoculture crops dependent on destructive chemical inputs and designed for export. Keep in mind this policy is happening in Ethiopia, a country that has suffered terrible famine in recent memory. (www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/15/ethiopian-farmer-uk-court-resettlement-policy-villagisation)

These are the real backers of the DRUSSA symposium, the Agribusiness interests behind DFID and a variety of other institutions. Their goal is not to end poverty but to make themselves richer at the expense of the poor and at the expense of all Ghanaians.

There is no reliable science that supports GMO safety or long term productivity. And there is an ever-increasing body of research that points to enormous dangers and destruction to our health and our environment from GMO crops and related chemicals.

“Accepting or Not Accepting GMOs: Implications for Sustainable Food Production in Ghana” is the DRUSSA symposium title.  Keep in mind there is no evidence that GMOs can make any contribution to a sustainable food supply.  There are lots of industry claims, but no evidence.  Where GMOs are more productive, that effect only lasts 3-5 years.  Then the toll exacted by the toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers begins to reveal its devastation on the land and the crops.  To date, all serious studies tell us the only way to sustainable agriculture is with small family farms, a rich diversity of seeds, and inputs that do not poison the land, the air, the water, and all the people, plants, and animals that live there.

Previous fora and symposia sponsored by supporters of the Plant Breeder’ Bill (PBB) and GMOs have excluded or minimized any alternate viewpoints.   Farmers have been promised a voice and excluded at the last moment, as has FSG.  It will be interesting to see how the DRUSSA symposium handles alternative viewpoints, whether they are treated with equal respect and accommodation.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah,
Chairperson, FSG

Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

December 8, 2014
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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: FSG Removes Duke Tagoe From Post

It is hereby announced that the Executive Council of Food Sovereignty Ghana Meeting on the 25th October, 2014, unanimously passed a resolution “to relieve Mr. Duke Nii Amartey Tagoe of his post as General Secretary of Food Sovereignty Ghana, and of any other official function he occupies with immediate effect.”

This announcement has become necessary in order to alert institutions, organisations and individuals who may be dealing with him on our behalf that anyone who deals with him on behalf of Food Sovereignty Ghana, does so at their own risk. The resolution read:

“Whereas Mr. Duke Tagoe has conducted himself in the recent past in a manner that is detrimental of the interest of Food Sovereignty Ghana and to the furtherance of its objects,

And whereas the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) gives authority to the Executive Council in Section 13 (b) (ii) Resignation Or Exclusion Of Members, in our Rules and Regulations, to wit:

13.  (b) The Executive Council may in its discretion exclude from membership of the Association any honorary, ordinary or associate member.

       (ii) If in the opinion of the Executive Council the continued membership of such person would be detrimental of the interest of the Association or to the furtherance of its objects.

IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED:

The Executive Council of Food Sovereignty Ghana, meeting on Saturday, 25th October, 2014, hereby resolves to relieve Mr. Duke Nii Amartey Tagoe of his post as General Secretary of Food Sovereignty Ghana, and of any other official function he occupies with immediate effect.”

Mr. Duke Tagoe’s last post in FSG was General Secretary. He has also served in various positions as Deputy Chairperson, Officer Responsible for Project Finances, and represented Food Sovereignty Ghana at various international conferences and fora. His dismissal follows a determination of non-cooperation, negligence, and inability to properly account for project funds under his responsibility, and persistent rude behaviour towards the leadership of FSG and other organisations friendly to FSG.

In a special handing over ceremony witnessed by Messrs. Elvis Agyei-Manu and Ottis Ocloo, on behalf of Food Sovereignty Ghana, with Lawyer John Yaw Opoku as witness on behalf of Mr. Tagoe, all documents and materials belonging to Food Sovereignty Ghana in his possession were presumed to have been handed over., thus terminating any formal engagements for FSG by Mr. Tagoe.

We are by this announcement requesting all organisations, local and international, individuals, as well as public and private entities, to take note and address all enquiries and contacts directly to our official email address: info@foodsovereigntyghana.org 

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

-- 
Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah,
Chairperson, FSG

Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana
Workshop Banner

November 28, 2014
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Report On Workshop On Biosafety, Seed Laws, Intellectual Property…

Workshop Banner
Workshop WP_20140228_029[1]
Capacity Building and Skills Sharing Workshop on Biosafety Seed Laws, Intellectual Property & Farmers Rights: Towards Food Sovereignty

27-28th February 2014
Miklin Hotels, Accra, Ghana
Organized by Food Sovereignty Ghana in collaboration with the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and the Third World Network (TWN).
Under the sponsorship of the Bread for the World

 

Part 1 Overview of Green Revolution and GM push in Ghana: players, motives, threats, and opportunities

Presented by Duke Tagoe, Deputy Chairperson, FSG

Overview of Green Revolution

“On March 7, 2012, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a white paper calling on the U.S. government to make global agricultural development and food security a priority agenda item at the G8 Summit, May 18-19. The white paper, developed by a bi-partisan working group of former government, international organization, business, and academic leaders, offers recommendations on how G8 governments can advance an international commitment to agricultural development in order to increase global food production and alleviate poverty.

The white paper urges G8 countries to sustain their financial commitments to food security and launch an international research initiative to develop new agricultural varieties resistant to weather extremes, water scarcity, disease, and related risks. It also recommends G8 members spur innovation and engage the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers, building capacity, strengthening intellectual property protections, and adopting and implementing policies to increase trade in commodities and food.”  [1]

These recommendations have been on the wish-list of the Rockefeller Foundation since 1999. But it has consistently been met with stiff opposition. When the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a joint  $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), it provoked immediate criticisms  that the proposal failed to take into account the failures of the original Green Revolution.  The  creators of AGRA claimed the initiative would bring benefits to the African continent’s impoverished  farmers who—they asserted—until then had been bypassed by the first Green Revolution.

“A day  later, probably in an orchestrated move, Jacques Diouf, Director General of UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), called for support for a “second Green Revolution” to feed the world’s growing population. UN boss Kofi Annan also weighed in to support the initiative. Iii ” [2]

First of all, it is not true that Africa was “bypassed” by the first Green Revolution. It simply failed.

“The original Green Revolution did in fact target Africa, but the extraordinary complexity of African farming systems and social relations doomed its one-size-fits-all model to failure. Nevertheless, in 1999, the Rockefeller Foundation launched its New Green Revolution for Africa initiative and was joined seven years later by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to form the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA’s stated mission is to “develop practical solutions to significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment [working] across all key aspects of the African agricultural ‘value chain’—from seeds, soil health and water to markets and agricultural education.”[3]

The New Alliance For Food and Nutrition Security announced by President Obama during the 2012 G8 Summit is simply targeted at “the extraordinary complexity of African farming systems and social relations doomed its one-size-fits-all model to failure.” It is a faithful continuation of the same agenda initiated by AGRA in 2006. It also takes the trouble to make it all look as though these are initiatives being undertaken by Africans themselves.

“The appointment of Kofi Annan as AGRA’s chairman was a strategic decision that the Gates Foundation made to silence criticisms that its agricultural development agenda was a “White Man’s Dream for Africa.” In fact, this more reeks of Monsanto’s campaign: “Let the Harvest Begin.” Launched in 1998 to gain acceptance of GE crops around the world by projecting the benefits of the Green Revolution in Asia and its potential in Africa, Monsanto’s campaign managed to draw several respected African leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, to speak for a new Green Revolution in Africa. In response, all of the African delegates (except South Africa) to the UN Food and Agriculture Negotiations on the International Undertaking for Plant Genetic Resources in June 1998 issued a counter statement, “Let Nature’s Harvest Continue.” The delegates clearly stated their objection to multinational companies’ use of the image of the poor and hungry from African countries to push technology that is not safe, environmentally friendly, or economically beneficial.” [4]

Thus, for an overwhelming majority of Africans whose views were never consulted, the so-called Green Revolution is nothing other than an orchestrated corporate power grab over our agriculture. A rather curious accusation was levelled recently by the UK Environment Minister, Mr. Owen Paterson. Iin his speech at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference, after saying that Europe is risking becoming a ‘museum of world farming’ if it doesn’t open the door to genetically modified crops, he also said that decisions about adopting GM technology have to be based ‘on science’, and called all opposition to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as ‘politically motivated’.”  [5]

Considering the zeal with which they seek to reduce everything under the sun into a commodity, under the banner of neolibralism, we can also safely make the claim that the attempts to use GMOs to boost big business profit, and the corporate use of biotechnology as a tool for domination and takeover of the global food system is also politically motivated. This is precisely what the so-called second Green Revolution is about.

The Players

It is very difficult to discuss the players, their motives, the threats, and the opportunities without bearing in mind the devastating effects on Africa’s agriculture, of the sort of policies they have imposed upon us in the past, and who benefited from those “mistakes”. And who is still living with their consequences.

For instance, I have in mind the constitutionalities by the Bretton Woods institutions on Africa’s agriculture. The Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF and the World Bank alone ensured an erosion of Africa’s food security unprecedented in our history. The people of Haiti were even lucky to get an apology from former US President Bill Clinton for the devastating consequences of the remarkable failures of his agricultural policy in Haiti.

We are still waiting for our apologies from the World Bank, The IMF, and our so-called “development partners” who control these institutions. But make no mistake, just as the rice farmers of Arkansas were the grateful beneficiaries of former President Clinton’s “mistakes”, are the giant transnational corporations in the agribusiness. And they have a lot of “mistakes” for us simply because each “mistake” represents a lot of profit.

The GM push into Ghana was formally inaugurated at the 2012 G8 Summit that announced to the world, the formation of the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition for Africa”, 18th May, 2012 to which the late President John Atta Mills was among Heads of the three African countries invited to the party. The symposium where this was announced had names like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Du Pont, Monsanto, Abbott, Elanco, Land O’Lakes, Walmart, as  sponsors. [6] All the biotech corporations are players.

In 1997, EuropaBio, the largest Biotechnology trade federation, representing 540 companies and 8 national associations, organized EuropaBio ’97, European Bioindustry Congress (June 25 – 27, Amsterdam). Faced with a hostile European reception to their products and a bleak prospect for their respective businesses, they commissioned Burson Marsteller (B-M) the world’s largest PR firm, operating from 60 offices in 30 different countries, to write up a strategy proposal for achieving a change in public ‘perceptions’. The document was leaked to Greenpeace:

“The federation were advised to stay clear of form of public debate and particularly the industry’s ‘killing fields’ – namely ‘Public issues of environmental and human health risk’. The task of persuading consumers to embrace genetically modified products should be left to those charged with public trust – politicians and regulators. Instead, the industry should concentrate on the spread of positive stories and symbols, eliciting a message of ‘hope, satisfaction, caring and self-esteem.’ ‘Symbols’, they add, are ‘central to politics because they connect to emotions and not logic’. The public, they advised, should be convinced that genetically altered products are not simply safe but ‘environmentally superior to standard crop varieties’.”  [7]

The Motives

Another big hurdle they faced was the recommendation in the final report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology (IAASTD) which called for low-input agro-ecological methods of farming as the way forward. Thus, before this “New Alliance”, the “players” we having a tough time penetrating Africa to the satisfaction of their greed. The “New Alliance” was to change all that. The entire event was a gigantic publicity of Olympic proportions exclusively for the interested in the promotion of their wares. It was exactly what Chomsky will call, “the manufacturing of consent”.

The motive is to ignore the wise counsel of the IAASTD and to impose GM foods by-passing all international conventions, agreements, and reports, and force the hands of governments into making what President Obama referred to as “tough decisions” in his opening remarks. It is my interpretation that the only reason such decisions could be “tough” is because they are made without any popular awareness, let alone, participation. It is therefore part of their motives, to sneak this whole thing on us. They have every intention to take us unaware. An attempt to “round us up” whilst we are still sleeping.

“Organic cultivation has been characterised as an enemy of progress for the simple reason that it cannot be monopolised: it can be adopted by any farmer anywhere on earth, without the help of multinational companies. Though it is more productive to grow several species or several varieties of crops in one field, the biotech companies seek to reduce diversity in order to make money, leaving farmers with no choice but to purchase their most profitable seeds. This is why Monsanto and their allies have spent the last ten years buying up seed breeding institutes and lobbying governments to do what ours has done: banning the sale of any seed which has not been officially – and expensively – registered and approved.” [8]

Threats

1. The Green Revolution actually deepens the divide between rich and poor farmers. In the 1960s at the beginning of the first Green Revolution, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations promoted industrial-style agriculture in the Global South through technology “packages” that included modern varieties (MVs), fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. The high cost of these purchased inputs deepened the divide between large farmers and smallholders because the latter could not afford the technology. In both Mexico and India seminal studies revealed that the Green Revolution’s expensive “packages” favored a minority of economically privileged farmers, put the majority smallholders at a disadvantage, and led to the concentration of land and resources (Frankel 1973; Hewitt de Alcantara 1976).

2. Over time, Green Revolution technologies degrade tropical agro-ecosystems and expose already vulnerable farmers to increased environmental risk. Following the early socioeconomic failures, governments started subsidizing the Green Revolution packages in an effort to encourage adoption by smallholders. In areas where smallholder farmers did adopt the package, the spread of MVs greatly increased the use of pesticides and fertilizers, often with serious health, environmental and economic consequences.

3. The Green Revolution leads to the loss of agro-biodiversity, the basis for smallholder livelihood security and regional environmental sustainability. Diversity is an important nutritional resource of poor communities, but the spread of MVs was accompanied by loss of local crop varieties and a trend toward monoculture which reduced dietary diversity and increased malnutrition.

4. Hunger is not primarily due to a lack of food, but rather because the hungry are too poor to buy the food that is available. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has shown that famine is fundamentally a problem of democracy, poverty and food distribution. While the architects of AGRA dutifully recite the Green Revolution’s oft-trumpeted claims to success in raising agricultural yields, there is little understanding of the causes of hunger, or of the Green Revolution’s colossal failure: it did not effectively reduce poverty or hunger.

5. Without addressing structural inequities in the market and political systems, approaches relying on high input technologies fail. The growing hunger in Africa is largely due to the increased impoverishment of the very rural peoples who once grew food, but who have now left farming. Today’s African farmers could easily produce far more food than they do, but they don’t because they cannot get credit to cover production costs, nor can they find buyers or obtain fair prices to give them a minimal profit margin. Under such circumstances, what difference will a new “technology package” make? Without addressing the causes of why African farmers leave farming—or why they under-produce—AGRA will have little impact on this trend.

6. The private sector alone will not solve the problems of production, marketing and distribution The first Green Revolution was introduced through the massive institutional support systems of the Indian and Mexican development states. Government agricultural ministries provided training, credit, research and extension, marketing, processing and distribution services to farmers who adopted Green Revolution technology. These heavy state subsidies created a market for private sector entry into the seed, fertilizer, machinery and trade activities in the Green Revolution. Few of these services are remotely available today. xii

7. Introduction of genetic engineering—the driving force behind AGRA initiative—will make smallholder systems more environmentally vulnerable in Sub-Saharan Africa. AGRA’s directors openly admit that their conventional crop-breeding approach will pave the way for genetic engineering technology. Both the Gatesxiii and the Rockefeller Foundations xiv are actively financing projects in genetic engineering (Bill Gates also has substantial private investments in GE xv). However, GE increases the risks of environmental failure on smallholder farms:

The expansion of transgenic maize and soybean monocultures in Africa will not only narrow the genetic base of indigenous agriculture but will also cause environmental risks. There are many widely accepted environmental risks associated with the rapid deployment and widespread commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) crops (Altieri, 2004; Altieri et al 2005; Altieri and Rosset, 1999a,b; Independent Science Panel, 2003):

8. The introduction of GE crops into smallholder agriculture will likely lead to farmer indebtedness. The expansion of GE crops in the Global South is driven by powerful transnational corporations that—in the face of growing public rejection of GE foods in the industrialized world—are desperately attempting to expand their markets in the Global South. While touted as the latest “silver bullet” in the war against hunger, GE crops will likely impoverish poor farmers by making them dependent on expensive external inputs:

9. AGRA’s assertion that “There Is No Alternative” (TINA) ignores the many successful  agroecological and non-corporate approaches to agricultural development that have grown in the wake of the Green Revolution’s failures. Truly reducing hunger requires policy changes that are far more important than technology fixes. To use crude economics language, we could say that any “supply side” (i.e. seeds and fertilizers) approach is useless until “demand side” problems (fair prices) are resolved. At best, the “right technology” plays only a complementary role. In this context, only agroecological technologies that have positive effects on the distribution of wealth, income, and assets, that are pro-poor, can have a synergistic effect in the reduction of hunger. Thousands of examples of the application of agroecology are at work throughout the developing world, where yields for crops that the poor rely on most—rice, beans, maize, cassava, potatoes, barley—have been increased by several-fold, relying on local biodiversity, family labor and new and traditional agroecological knowledge.

10.AGRA’s “alliance” does not allow peasant farmers to be the principal actors in agricultural improvement. The Rockefeller and Gates Foundations consulted with the world’s largest seed and fertilizer companies, with big philanthropy, and with multilateral development agencies, but have yet to let peasant farmer organizations give their views on the kind of agricultural development they believe will most benefit them. [9]

Opportunities

We already know what to do. The final report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology (IAASTD) had recommendations which continue to receive confirmation each time there is some independent study on Africa’s agricultural needs. The agrochemicals and biotechnology industry, were obviously unhappy with the conclusions in the IAASTD report. They withdrew from the process before the final meeting with claims that industry perspectives, particularly its view that genetically modified (GM) crops are key to reducing poverty and hunger, were not adequately reflected in the report.

“The report’s lack of specific support for GM crops was, however, based on a rigorous and peer-reviewed analysis of the empirical evidence. After consideration of the evidence on both sides of the debate, the report is notably muted in relation to the claimed benefits of GM crops, highlighting instead the lingering doubts and uncertainties surrounding them. For poor farmers, the report concludes, GM crops are unlikely to play a substantial role in addressing their needs. In any case, longer-term assessments of the environmental and health risks, and regulatory frameworks, are needed.”

Another key concern highlighted in relation to GM crops is the dominance of the biotechnology industry in agricultural R&D, at the expense of other agricultural sciences. Furthermore, the report noted that farmers face new liabilities from GM crops, particularly as a result of the detection of GM crops in conventional and organic crops that leads to patent infringement suits and loss of certification, respectively.”  [10]

The way forward is a simple one. It is one of low-input, agro-ecological, sustainable agriculture. The onslaught they have unleashed must create new opportunities for solidarity. And it is already happening. A quick glance at this hall will confirm that.

REFERENCES:
[1] Upcoming G8 Summit Can Make New Progress in Advancing Global Food Security http://bit.ly/LDkHdR

[2] Food First Policy Brief No.12: Ten Reasons Why the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ Alliance for Another Green Revolution Will Not Solve the Problems of Poverty and Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa , October 2006 , By Eric Holt-Gimenez, Ph.D., Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D., and Peter Rosset, Ph.D  http://www.foodfirst.org/files/pdf/policybriefs/pb12.pdf

[3] Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) | Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2571]

[4] Voices From Africa: African Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa | oaklandinstitute.org http://bit.ly/LEdRVw

[5] Genetic modification: A means of making profit | The Socialist 26 February 2014 http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/800/18217/26-02-2014/genetic-modification-a-means-of-making-profit

[6] 2012 Symposium, Advancing Food And Nutrition Security At The G8 Summit, May 18, 2012, Washington, D.C. http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/files/Global_Agriculture/Initiative_Events/2012_Symposium.aspx
[7] [PDF] Monsanto’s Failing PR Strategy – The FrankenFood Files, frankenfoodfiles.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/brunofinal.pdf, File Format: PDF/
[8] George Monbiot, Organic Farming Will Feed the World: http://www.monbiot.com/2000/08/24/organic-farming-will-feed-the-world/

[9] Bill and Melinda Gates Misguided Plan to Attack Hunger in Africa – pb12.pdf http://www.foodfirst.org/files/pdf/policybriefs/pb12.pdf
[10] Briefings for MOP 4: 4th Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, 12-16 May 2008, Bonn, Germany, Overhaul of agriculture systems needed http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/susagri/susagri032.htm

[10] Briefings for MOP 4: 4th Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, 12-16 May 2008, Bonn, Germany, Overhaul of agriculture systems needed http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/susagri/susagri032.htm

Part 2. The G8 New Alliance and mobilization in Germany

Presented by Stig Tanzmann Bread for the World

 

GMOMARCH_11OCT2013_VICTORIAOKOYE_3739

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!