FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS’ POSITION ON THE PLANT BREEDERS’ BILL AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS IN ACCRA ON 19TH JUNE 2014
On the 19th of June 2014 Faith-Based Organizations, in collaboration with Action Aid Ghana, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development and Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana with sponsorship from STAR-Ghana, met at the National Secretariat of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference to discuss the current debate on the Plant Breeders’ Bill and the Genetically Modified Organisms. The session brought together diverse Faith-Based Organizations including; Office of the National Chief Imam, National Catholic Secretariat, Federation of Muslim Women of Ghana, Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana Muslim Mission, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Religious Bodies Network for Climate Change, Marshallan Relief and Development Services and Ahlussuna Wal Jama’a. We hereby state that our position on the debate has become necessary due to the importance of agriculture in the Ghanaian economy and the negative implication of Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs to the Ghanaian food sovereignty.
As key stakeholders in the democratic processes in Ghana with a large following that cut across ethnic, social and political divides across the country, we resolved and agreed on the following for consideration by Parliament:
1. Many Ghanaians are not aware of or understand what is contained in the Plant Breeders’ Bill. There has not been adequate public education and consensus on the Bill. We are alarmed by attempts by Parliament to pass the Bill without adequate consultation with key stakeholders including the Faith-Based Organizations. Citizens of the diverse faiths constitute over 90% of the Ghanaian population.
2. We are interested in issues of agriculture and this is manifested through the several investments the FBOs have made in agricultural projects across the country. Our practical experience in working in the agricultural sector indicate that Ghana’s dwindling food production cannot be attributed to our non-usage of GMO technologies but due to poor access roads to farms, lack of credit, unavailability of ready market, lack of storage facilities and agricultural processing. We therefore suggest to Government and Parliament to redirect efforts and resources in these areas rather than falling for cheap and quick fix solutions that have the potential of compromising the future of our constituents and the danger of Ghana losing her right to food sovereignty to multi-national companies.
3. The speed at which Government and Parliament are running with the Plant Breeders’ Bill which will lead to the legitimization of GMOs leaves much to be desired.
We therefore make the following recommendations in the interests of the Ghanaian public and our hardworking farmers:
1. We suggest Parliament suspends the passage of the Bill in its present state till there is adequate public information on the pros and cons of the Bill.
2. We call for the withdrawal of the current Bill to allow for in-depth analysis and to build national consensus. We further call for the redrafting of the Bill to address the concerns of interest groups such as farmers, local seed producers, local researchers and consumers.
3. We encourage Parliament to assume a non-partisan approach in engaging with stakeholders who have concerns on the Bill.
4. We call on the President of the Republic, as a matter of urgency, to intervene in halting the passage of the Bill till there is clarity. Should Parliament proceed to pass the current Bill, we further call on the President to exercise his prerogative of refusing assent to it in the interest of Ghanaians and his personal vision of encouraging home grown solutions.
1. National Catholic Secretariat of Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (NCS/GCBC) – 0244318807
2. Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) – 0262937184
3. Marshallan Relief and Development Services (MAREDES) – 0244366622
4. Federation of Muslim Women of Ghana (FOMWAG) – 0244881009
5. Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM) – 0200995717
6. Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana (AMM-G) – 0244863931
7. Religious Bodies Network for Climate Change (RELBONET) – 0244023542 / 0244616768.
8. Ahlussuna Wal Jama’a (ASWAJ) – 0244023542
9. Office of the National Chief Imam (ONCI) – 0244212796