Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

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March 21, 2018
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Court Case On GMO Commercialisation Goes To Appeal Court

The Accra Human Rights High Court hearing the suit against the commercialisation of GMOs has ruled that the parties go for the determination of the motion to stay proceedings at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, 28th March. 

The case, Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, Suit No. HRCM 43/15 was called on Monday March 19, 2018.  This was meant to continue with proceedings in the case originally brought before it on November 23, 2017.

However, after the acknowledgement and presence of all legal representatives of the relevant parties in the case, the counsel for the fifth defendants, the Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisherfolk (GNAFF),  Maame Sarpong who stood in for Bright  Okyere Adjekum  informed the court that they had filed a motion of stay of proceedings in the High Court pending an appeal that has been made by FSG on an earlier dismissal of an injunction sought on the release of genetically modified cowpeas and rice onto the Ghanaian market.

Their lawyers present that the ruling that dismissed the injunction in 2015 has determined the matter.  On March 28th all parties are to appear in the Court of Appeal to hear the motion to stay proceeding at the High Court.  The court further ordered all parties to return to the Human Rights High Court on April 13th at 11 am.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

March 2, 2018
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“Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” – CSOs Tell Parliament

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest Loss

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest LossRepresentatives from various civil society organisations have re-iterated their call for a revision of the “UPOV-compliant” Plant Breeders Bill. They called for a “sui generis” plant variety protection system as demanded under the WTO TRIPS Agreement.

The representatives included Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), General Agricultural Workers Union – GAWU of TUC Ghana,  Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

According to Ms. Victoria Adongo, Executive Director of PFAG, “we had a fruitful engagement with members of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs and Environment, Science and Technology Committees of parliament to discuss food security issues bothering on Post Harvest Losses, Plant Breeders Bill and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)”.

The hearing offered the opportunity for the CSOs to restate their case against GMOs and to dispel the misinformation that followed the petitions. Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour, Director of Communications of FSG, took the MPs through the UPOV Convention, The WTO TRIPPS Agreement.  In addressing them, he was clear on the need for the Select Committee to address the original issues raised by the coalition four years ago, citing clause 23 and 58 as examples of the inappropriate nature of the proposed bill and urged Parliament to ensure that the interest of Ghana’s farmers and her bio diversity were not compromised in the bill.

Mr. Andoh Baffour also reminded the lawmakers to ensure that any loopholes in the proposed bill that may facilitate biopiracy of Ghana’s national flora and fauna should be addressed. To this end he called for a mandatory need to declare the source of the genetic materials used in the research work as is best practice worldwide.  Mr. Baffour used the opportunity to remind the august body that there was no mention of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in the entire issues raised by the coalition and asked all stakeholders to cease the pander to the deliberately created perception that the opposition to the bill was based on GMO.

In response to the concerns raised by the coalition the Chairperson of the Committee Hon. Kyeremanteng Agyarko who is also the MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, assured the meeting that the relevant areas of concern raised had been acknowledged and would be given the necessary attention.  He expressed regret that the issues raised had taken so long to resolve however reminded members that a new parliament had been sworn in since the last consultations and assured all stakeholders involved the opportunity to continue to contribute constructively in the collective interest of Ghana.

Below is the full text of a summary of the position paper on the Plant Breeders’ Bill read to the Committee by Ms. Victoria Adongo on behalf of the coalition:

CSO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill (2013)

Parliamentary Hearing, Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Parliament House, Accra, 27th February, 2018.

We are most grateful for the opportunity granted us to humbly present to you our views on the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (2013).

UPOV-1991 COMPLIANCE:

The WTO agreement clearly states that contracting parties have a right to develop their own sui generis plant variety protection (pvp) laws. Even though this is acknowledged in the memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill, it proceeds to opt for the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) without any explanation, as to why the government made such a choice. It provides no evidence, or impact assessments of the necessity for adopting such a regime.

The Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill only abruptly announces:

“Clause 1 of the Bill defines the scope of application of the Bill. Ghana has opted to apply the requirement for compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961 and subsequently revised on November 10th, 1972, on 23rd October, 1978 and on 19th March, 1991″.

It gives no justification for such a choice which a sui generis pvp cannot do.

Meanwhile several prominent Ghanaian experts in the field have dared to raise their voices against the passage of the UPOV-compliant Bill such as the critique by Nana S. K. B. Asante. [1] As eloquently expressed by a study by the German Government on the UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks: it calls for the harmonising of the goals and obligations from different treaties while implementing PVP law.

“Goals and obligations from different international treaties, such as TRIPS, ITPGRFA and ICESCR, need to be harmonised if a country sets out to develop a national PVP law. The TRIPS agreement as such leaves sufficient discretion to governments to design PVP laws in such a way that the obligations of other treaties are addressed”. [2]

The 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) offers a rigid model inappropriate for developing countries. It ignores the characteristics of the seed supply systems in those countries, where farmers produce a large part of the seeds and other propagating material, and limits farmers’ traditional practices of saving, exchanging and selling plant materials. These activities are crucial to preserving a diversified supply of seeds, adapted to local conditions and a changing environment as well as support farmers’ livelihoods. [3]

“SUI GENERIS” PVP:

Under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, gives Ghana the right to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. (Sui generis means a “unique” system of protection). This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection. UPOV 1991, on the other hand, is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection.

The decision to adopt UPOV is not in the interest of a developing country like Ghana. The giant multinational corporations waiting in the wings stand to benefit at our expense. It is also important to note that African countries in concert with other developing countries ensured during the TRIPS negotiations that a developing economy like Ghana would not be short-changed by giant corporate interests. The inclusion of the sui generis clause in the WTO negotiations was an important victory won by the so-called third world countries like Ghana in the complex web of intellectual property rights protection.

To consolidate the victory won at the WTO, the African Union developed a model that carefully took into consideration, the legitimate rights of the plant breeder, as well as those of our farmers.[4] It is thus truly pathetic that the report submitted to Parliament made no mention of this, nor referenced even the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITGRFA). Ghana is a signatory to the ITGRFA, and is under an international obligation to respect the rights of farmers.

PUBLICATION OF CONSULTATIONS:

The only reason given for the withdrawal of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, which was at the Consideration Stage was, in the words of the former Speaker of the House, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”. [5] It therefore behoves Parliament, in the interest of transparency, especially given the controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders’ Bill, to publish a cogent report on the consultations over the Plant Breeders’ Bill, detailing the petitions, the basis of opposition to the Bill, and generally provide a public account before any decision to proceed with the Bill in its current form.

We would also like to see in the report, what justification, if any, lies behind the inclusion of Clause 23 in the Plant Breeders’ Bill which makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana. Even as citizens, our rights are subject to the laws of Ghana, not independent of it. Another pertinent issue raised in the petitions is the call for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of Ghana’s genetic resources. We urgently need answers from Parliament why there is no provision in the Bill requiring the disclosure of origin. This provision is critical for combating biopiracy of our genetic resources.

CONCLUSION:

Over 150 organisations from Africa and around the world have already petitioned Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill. Their petition further buttresses the point we have been making all along:

“Ghana can protect plant breeder rights without necessarily opting for UPOV 91. The Bill is modelled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection (PVP). It is worth noting that today out of the 71 UPOV members, only a fraction – about 22 developing countries are members of UPOV. Most of these developing countries (e.g. Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa) and even some developed countries (e.g. Norway) are not members of UPOV 1991 but rather UPOV 1978, which is a far more flexible regime”.[6]

The title of their petition declared, “Ghana’s Plant Breeders’ Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” We are in full agreement with this request, and pray on you to heed the call.

REFERENCES:

[1] A Private Memo From Nana S. K. B. Asante Pointing To Flaws In The Plant Breeders’ Bill Special Report | 31 August 2014 https://t.co/qim3hyRW8k

[2] UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” GIZ: https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf

[3] Plant Variety Protection in Developing Countries: A Tool for Designing a Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System: An Alternative to UPOV 1991 | APBREBES http://www.apbrebes.org/news/new-publication-plant-variety-protection-developing-countries-tool-designing-sui-generis-plant?pk_campaign=too

[4] African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/oau/oau001en.pdf

[5] The Hansard – Official Report for 11th November 2014 Publications | Parliament of Ghana

[6] Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! | Organizations from Africa and around the world petition Ghana’s Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill… 20th February 2014 http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitimacy-it-must-be-revised/

Parliament Meets With CSO/FBOs Over PBB, GMOs, and Post Harvest Loss

February 27, 2018
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Summary of CSO/FBO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary of

CSO/FBO Position Paper: The Plant Breeders’ Bill (2013)

Parliamentary Hearing

Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs

Parliament House, Accra, 27th February, 2018.

We are most grateful for the opportunity granted us to humbly present to you our views on the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, (2013).

UPOV-1991 COMPLIANCE:

The WTO agreement clearly states that contracting parties have a right to develop their own sui generis plant variety protection (pvp) laws. Even though this is acknowledged in the memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill, it proceeds to opt for the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) without any explanation, as to why the government made such a choice. It provides no evidence, or impact assessments of the necessity for adopting such a regime.

The Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill only abruptly announces:

“Clause 1 of the Bill defines the scope of application of the Bill. Ghana has opted to apply the requirement for compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961 and subsequently revised on November 10th, 1972, on 23rd October, 1978 and on 19th March, 1991″.

It gives no justification for such a choice which a sui generis pvp cannot do.

Meanwhile several prominent Ghanaian experts in the field have dared to raise their voices against the passage of the UPOV-compliant Bill such as the critique by Nana S. K. B. Asante. [1] As eloquently expressed by a study by the German Government on the UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks: it calls for the harmonising of the goals and obligations from different treaties while implementing PVP law.

“Goals and obligations from different international treaties, such as TRIPS, ITPGRFA and ICESCR, need to be harmonised if a country sets out to develop a national PVP law. The TRIPS agreement as such leaves sufficient discretion to governments to design PVP laws in such a way that the obligations of other treaties are addressed”. [2]

The 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) offers a rigid model inappropriate for developing countries. It ignores the characteristics of the seed supply systems in those countries, where farmers produce a large part of the seeds and other propagating material, and limits farmers’ traditional practices of saving, exchanging and selling plant materials. These activities are crucial to preserving a diversified supply of seeds, adapted to local conditions and a changing environment as well as support farmers’ livelihoods. [3]

“SUI GENERIS” PVP:

Under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, gives Ghana the right to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. (Sui generis means a “unique” system of protection). This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection. UPOV 1991, on the other hand, is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection.

The decision to adopt UPOV is not in the interest of a developing country like Ghana. The giant multinational corporations waiting in the wings stand to benefit at our expense. It is also important to note that African countries in concert with other developing countries ensured during the TRIPS negotiations that a developing economy like Ghana would not be short-changed by giant corporate interests. The inclusion of the sui generis clause in the WTO negotiations was an important victory won by the so-called third world countries like Ghana in the complex web of intellectual property rights protection.

To consolidate the victory won at the WTO, the African Union developed a model that carefully took into consideration, the legitimate rights of the plant breeder, as well as those of our farmers.[4] It is thus truly pathetic that the report submitted to Parliament made no mention of this, nor referenced even the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITGRFA). Ghana is a signatory to the ITGRFA, and is under an international obligation to respect the rights of farmers.

PUBLICATION OF CONSULTATIONS:

The only reason given for the withdrawal of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, which was at the Consideration Stage was, in the words of the former Speaker of the House, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”. [5] It therefore behoves Parliament, in the interest of transparency, especially given the controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders’ Bill, to publish a cogent report on the consultations over the Plant Breeders’ Bill, detailing the petitions, the basis of opposition to the Bill, and generally provide a public account before any decision to proceed with the Bill in its current form.

We would also like to see in the report, what justification, if any, lies behind the inclusion of Clause 23 in the Plant Breeders’ Bill which makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana. Even as citizens, our rights are subject to the laws of Ghana, not independent of it. Another pertinent issue raised in the petitions is the call for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of Ghana’s genetic resources. We urgently need answers from Parliament why there is no provision in the Bill requiring the disclosure of origin. This provision is critical for combating biopiracy of our genetic resources.

CONCLUSION:

Over 150 organisations from Africa and around the world have already petitioned Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill. Their petition further buttresses the point we have been making all along:

“Ghana can protect plant breeder rights without necessarily opting for UPOV 91. The Bill is modelled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which is a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection (PVP). It is worth noting that today out of the 71 UPOV members, only a fraction – about 22 developing countries are members of UPOV. Most of these developing countries (e.g. Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa) and even some developed countries (e.g. Norway) are not members of UPOV 1991 but rather UPOV 1978, which is a far more flexible regime”.[6]

The title of their petition declared, “Ghana’s Plant Breeders’ Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!” We are in full agreement with this request, and pray on you to heed the call.

REFERENCES:

[1] A Private Memo From Nana S. K. B. Asante Pointing To Flaws In The Plant Breeders’ Bill Special Report | 31 August 2014 https://t.co/qim3hyRW8k

[2] UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” GIZ: https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf

[3] Plant Variety Protection in Developing Countries: A Tool for Designing a Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System: An Alternative to UPOV 1991 | APBREBES http://www.apbrebes.org/news/new-publication-plant-variety-protection-developing-countries-tool-designing-sui-generis-plant?pk_campaign=too

[4] African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/oau/oau001en.pdf

[5] The Hansard – Official Report for 11th November 2014 Publications | Parliament of Ghana
[6] Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! | Organizations from Africa and around the world petition Ghana’s Parliament on the Plant Breeder’s Bill… 20th February 2014 http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitimacy-it-must-be-revised/

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2018
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Ghana’s GM-Lobby Loses Debate On #GMOs!

PHOTO: From Left to right, Edwin Baffour, Communications Director, Food Sovereignty Ghana; Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai,  Agro-Meteorologist,  CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer,  National Bio safety Authority.  Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah,  Deputy Director for Crop Services,  Ministry of Food and Agriculture;  Dr.  Vivian Oduro,  Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I   Institute,  Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; Mr.  Edward Karaweh, General Secretary,  Ghana Agriculture Workers Union.

PHOTO: From Left to right, Edwin Baffour, Communications Director, Food Sovereignty Ghana; Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai, Agro-Meteorologist, CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer, National Bio safety Authority.
Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah, Deputy Director for Crop Services, Ministry of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Vivian Oduro, Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; Mr. Edward Karaweh, General Secretary, Ghana Agriculture Workers Union.

Following a successful debate on the topic, “Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe To Eat?” held at the Obed Asamoah Conference Room of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017, Food Sovereignty Ghana was again invited today, Tuesday, 16th January, to a “Question and Answer Session On Genetically Modified Foods And Its Implications For Ghana”.

Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour, the Director of Communications of Food Sovereignty Ghana, and  Mr.  Edward Karaweh, General Secretary,  Ghana Agriculture Workers Union. represented the opposition to the motion. In favour, were Prof. Alhassan-Lansah Abdulai,  Agro-Meteorologist,  CSIR-SARI; Eric Okoree, Chief Executive Officer,  National Bio safety Authority, Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah,  Deputy Director for Crop Services,  Ministry of Food and Agriculture;  and Dr.  Vivian Oduro,  Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research I   Institute,  Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. 

The debate, which was part of the Ministry’s capacity building strategies to enrich the knowledge of officers at the Ministry ended with a show of hands by the audience. When the question was put at the end, only two people in a room of forty seven (47) raised their hands in favour of GMO after four people on the panel spoke in favour of GMO .The first debate was held on December 13, 2018 on the theme “Are GMO foods Safe to eat” and for the record not one person raised their hands in favour of GMO in a room of more than 60 people.

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

Anywaa Survival Organisation et al | 15 December 2017 |

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

Anuak condemn attempts to delay Karuturi’s exit from Ethiopia

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD RULING IN PDF DOCUMENT:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

​Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodSovereignGH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyGhana

 

GMO foods safe to eat – Scientist
BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2017
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DISCUSSION PAPER ON LABELLING OF GM FOODS

FDA DISCUSSION PAPER ON LABELLING OF GM FOODS_final draft.pdf 
PURPOSE: To facilitate a national discussion on labeling of GM derived food and feed to build consensus towards a national position.
SCOPE: Food and feed derived from a GMO; including but not limited to raw and processed produce.
INTRODUCTION
Food labeling refers to information displayed on food products (text, devices or pictures), for the purpose of facilitating consumer decisions during purchase and use of products; it is defined by legislation, and broadly categorized as mandatory or voluntary labeling. The general principle for labeling is to forestall false, misleading or deceptive presentation of prepackaged food, and also to prevent an erroneous impression regarding the character of the product in any respect (Codex, 2001).
Labeling information serves three main functions: i) product information: this comprises product names and descriptions, list of ingredients, net content/drained weight, product shelf-life, lot identification, grade/quality, details of manufacturer or distributor and country of origin. ii) health, safety and nutrition information: it includes instructions for safe handling, storage and use, nutrition information pertaining to composition per serving in nutritional information/facts table as well as for specific dietary uses. iii) promotional information: it advertises and markets a food using vignettes, promotion information and claims such as organic, natural, low fat, high source of fiber, fair trade, halal, kosher, quality management system certifications etc. (Codex, 2001 & CFIA, 2011).
Though labeling statements are ultimately driven by consumer welfare, over the years labeling standards have been initiated primarily by governments either proactively or in response to food industry initiatives that have the potential to mislead consumers. The balance between consumer needs and company labeling initiatives drives labeling standards to ensure that consumers are not exploited. In pursuance of this balance, government regulators have influenced the termination of some private labeling initiatives due to its potential to mislead the consumer (Fooducate, 2014).
The World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) considers genetically modified organisms for food, feed and processing (GMO-FFP) that have been approved in accordance with international guidelines for risk assessment of the same, are as safe as its conventional counterpart (OECD, 1993; WHO, 1991). After two-decades and a half long research commissioned by the EU, involving 130 research projects and 500 independent research groups; the report concluded that “biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies” (EU, 2010). Such consensus among international organizations and the European Union on the safety of food and feed derived from GMOs as presented above suggests the discussion of labeling approved GM derived food, feed and ingredients is not a health and safety issue.
In spite of this consensus on the safety of approved GM foods, consumers continue to express concern about the safety of GMOs due to concerns expressed by several articles in peer reviewed journals, the most notable being the article by Séralini et al (2012) on long term toxicity of Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. This publication received worldwide media attention and was hailed as principal proof that GM foods are unsafe. It consequently influenced policy decisions in some African countries like Kenya where a ban on the importation and cultivation of GM foods was instituted (ACSH, 2015).
The Séralini et al. study was reviewed by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on request of the European Commission; they noted that the study’s inadequate design, analysis and reporting is of insufficient scientific quality for safety assessment, and concluded as follows “the Séralini et al. study as reported in the 2012 publication does not impact the ongoing re-evaluation of glyphosate, and does not see a need to reopen the existing safety evaluation of maize NK603 and its related stacks” (EFSA, 2012). National competent authorities from France, Germany, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand reached the same conclusions as EFSA following their review of the Séralini et. al. study (ANES, 2012; HCB, 2012; VIB, 2012; BfR, 2012 and FSANZ, 2012). Following a thorough investigation of the study, the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted the article on the inconclusiveness of the study results based on deficiencies in the study design (Wallace Hayes, 2014).
This discussion paper is aimed at highlighting the key issues to facilitate the consideration of a country position on labeling of GM foods.
 
LABELLING OF GM FOOD, FEED & INGREDIENTS 
The call for labeling of GM derived food, feed and ingredient by environmental and civil society groups and some governments is based on a supposition that consumers have a fundamental right to know what their foods contain; to facilitate their decision to patronize or boycott such food based on one or several of the following; safety, health, nutrition, socioeconomic, ethical, religious, or environmental issues. These references also govern current labeling systems and strategies for foods and other consumer goods.
Globally there is currently no agreement, standards or guidelines on labeling of foods derived from GMOs. Following several years of discussion at the Codex Committee on Food Labeling no agreements was reached; individual countries have developed labeling regimes that meet their needs. In the development of labeling systems and requirements, several governments around the world have developed mandatory or voluntary labeling regulation on the basis of process-based or proof-based principle and the use of positive or negative labeling statements.
Mandatory labeling regulations require food products derived wholly or partially from GMOs to be labeled in accordance with guidelines; failure to comply with regulations attracts a penalty which is usually very hefty. On the other hand, voluntary regulations provide guidelines for labeling foods derived from GMOs, however, the decision to label is taken by the food product manufacturer or distributor.
For labeling regulations based on proof-based labeling principle, food products are labeled as GM in accordance with the guidelines when it contains detectable GM material, whilst for process-based regulations food products are labeled in accordance with GM labeling guidelines when the food or part of it was developed using modern biotechnology techniques.
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The proof-based systems rely on product testing and the process-based systems on identity preservation systems to authentic claims of applicants. Positive labeling highlights the GM content of food products, whilst negative labeling highlights the absence of GM content by employing symbols or statements such as “contains GMO” or “non-GM”.
Figure 1 below, shows information gathered by the FAO (n.d.) from 41 countries on the various strategies employed by their labeling regulations for foods derived from GMOs. One hundred and twenty-five countries were surveyed for their labeling requirements for labeling of foods derived from GMOs.
Fig. 1: GM Food Labeling Regulations Across 41 Countries Globally 
MANDATORY OR VOLUNTARY REGULATIONS POSITIVE LABELING NEGATIVE LABELING POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE LABELING MANDATORY REGULATIONS POSITIVE LABELING (ALLOWS VOLUNTARY & NEGATIVE LABELING) NEGATIVE LABELING (ALLOWS VOLUNTARY & POSITIVE LABELING)
Globally, there are varied variations to how these labeling regulations in fig. 1 are implemented on two additional levels; threshold levels and coverage of guidelines. The thresholds levels relate to the unintentional and technically unavoidable presence of approved GMOs arising from cross pollination/fertilization, volunteer plants, add mixing in machinery during planting and harvesting – low level presence. The current levels vary widely from 0.9%, 1%, 5% to undefined levels. The application of labeling regulations for the following also vary from country to country:
• List of ingredients – from top 3 to all ingredients with threshold limits.
• Additives and flavorings
• Animal feed
• Meat and products derived from animals fed with GM feed.
• Foods sold at restaurants, caterers and unpacked food
Page 4 of 16
REVIEW OF SELECTED COUNTRY LABELING REGULATIONS 
 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA REGULATIONS
 In the US, the FDA recommends food companies to voluntary consult the agency before it markets the GM food, except for situations where the food is significantly different or gene is sourced from a known allergenic plant. The FDA does not formally approve an application or conclude whether the GM food is safe or not, however, they issue a memorandum indicating the features of the food and how it may impact the safety concerns. In 2001 a proposed mandatory premarket approval, known as the Premarket Biotechnology Notice (PBN) was proposed but is yet to be enacted; with this system, a food company will notify the FDA 120 days prior to the commercial distribution of the food and supply all the requisite safety data irrespective of the GM content (Wong, 2003; Roberts, 2016). Until July 29, 2017, there was no obligation to label GM foods; companies were only obligated to label GM foods that were substantially different in respect of nutritional characteristics as per the 2002 voluntary labeling guidelines of the Food and Drugs Administration. There was therefore no labeling system that provided for standards, testing, certification and enforcement regarding GM foods in the US (Wong, 2003; Zainol et al, 2013).
In the absence of a US Federal Legislation for mandatory labeling, several States initiated mandatory legislation. In 2014, Vermont became the first US State to pass a law that mandates the labeling of foods derived from genetically modified crops; that comes into force on July 1, 2016 (Ford D. & Ferrigno L. (2014). Maine and Connecticut had also passed GM labeling laws but required other states to pass GM labeling laws before it could be enacted (Reuters, 2014). As more and more States push for mandatory labeling, plurality of the GM labeling strategies and requirements would create a compliance nightmare for the food industry as they will need to comply with the idiosyncratic labeling requirements of the different States; resulting in increased cost of compliance and consequently cost of products.
When the Vermont mandatory labeling law came into effect in July 1, 2016, a compromise Federal Legislation, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Notice, Public Law 114–216, was passed by Congress and accented to by the President on July 29, 2016 to avert the imminent chaos in the food industry. This standard requires mandatory disclosure on the label of a bioengineered food using any of the following; text, symbol, or electronic or digital link. It defines a bioengineered food, establishes exceptions from disclosure, and prevents individual states from directly or indirectly enacting laws in respect of bioengineered food disclosures. The USDA has up to two (2) years to write regulations, requirements and procedures for implementation of this federal legislation.
EUROPEAN REGULATIONS 
In 1997 the EU Novel Foods Regulation 258/97 required labeling of GM foods on the proof-based principle. This means that only final products with detectable genetic DNA fragments were required to be labeled. Thus when DNA fragments cannot be detected due to extensive processing, such a product did not require labeling. The new GM labeling regulations of 2004, is based on a process-oriented principle. Under this new regulation, food products that make use of GMOs at any point during their production; whether or not the DNA fragments are detectable, are required to be labeled under this
Page 5 of 16
regulation. The labeling is to provide information on the use of genetic modification irrespective of its effect on the final product composition. This process-oriented new system is stricter, labor and capital intensive than the proof-based system on the part of the regulatory system and processors due to traceability requirements along the food value chain (EU, 1997; GMO Compass, 2005).
The new EU regulation reduces the threshold value beyond which mandatory labeling is required from 1.0% to 0.9% only attributable to technically unavoidable presence. Operators must demonstrate that appropriate steps have been taken to avoid such presence to be exempt from labeling. Article 9 of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 prescribes labeling phrases for GM component of a food or food ingredient:
- ‘genetically modified’ or ‘produced from genetically modified (name of the ingredient)’
- ‘contains genetically modified (name of organism)’ or ‘contains (name of ingredient) produced from genetically modified (name of organism)’
- ‘genetically modified’ or ‘produced from genetically modified (name of organism)’ In addition Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 prescribes the following labeling phrases for pre-packaged and non-prepackaged foods:
- ‘This product contains genetically modified organisms’ or ‘This product contains genetically modified [name of organism(s)]’
The European regulations exempt the following categories
• Processing aids such as food enzymes produced using GMOs.
• Food products from animals fed with GM-feed or treated with GM medicinal products as these are produced with, but are not from a GMO. Milk, meat & eggs.
• Foods produced by fermentation using genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs) not present in the final product. CIAA (2007).
AUSTRALIAN REGULATIONS 
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for GM food labelling in Australia. It considers Australia and New Zealand to have a very rigorous and progressive labeling requirements for GM food labeling. They subject all foods derived from genetic modified crops to pre-market safety assessment and approval. GM food labeling is regulated using the Standard 1.5.2 Food Produced Using Gene Technology of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code (the Standard). The Standard requires the labeling of food and food ingredients that contains more than 1% of GM raw materials. For single-ingredient foods the phrase “genetically modified” should be placed on the principal display panel close to the name prescribed by law for the food, whilst for multi-ingredient foods, the GM ingredient should be declared in the list of ingredients. Foods whose status as to containing GM materials cannot be established by the manufacturer, are required to be labeled “may be genetically modified” or “may contain genetically modified [ingredient name]“. Exceptions to the labeling requirements are as follows:
i. When GM content is less than 1%; thus allowing for inadvertent mixing of GM and non-GM materials.
ii. Highly refined foods where the neither the DNA nor Protein is present.
iii. Foods that use GM processing aids in its manufacture but are not present in the final food.
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iv. Food prepared at the point of sale – e.g. restaurants. Foods that differ from its conventional counterparts in respect of the following require additional labeling: composition and nutritional values, anti-nutritional factors or natural toxicants, factors known to cause allergies, its intended use or factors that may raise ethical, cultural or religious concerns (Wong, 2003).
JAPANESE REGULATIONS 
New biotechnology varieties for development of new food products are required to undergo premarket assessment by the Food Sanitation Committee of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan. Food products that contain designated GM ingredients are required to be labeled; if it’s a top 3 ingredient and constitutes more than 5% of the total weight of the product. They publish a list of approved GM ingredients (the List); it is therefore illegal to sell or import food products with unapproved GM ingredients. Japan has zero tolerance for unapproved events in its food products, as such, continuous monitoring and testing is conducted for imports and processed foods at retail level. Non-conforming shipments are returned, destroyed or diverted for non-food use.
The labeling of food products are classified as:
i. Genetically modified – This is applicable to all prepackaged foods which are required to be labeled under the Food Sanitation Law and Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) Law.
ii. Not segregated from GM products – This is applicable to products that may contain GM materials because they have not been handled in accordance with identify preserved basis.
iii. Non-GM – This is applicable to products that have been identity preserved to ensure it does not contain any GM material.
Categories (i) & (ii) are mandatory whilst (iii) is voluntary.
There are exemptions to the labeling regulations:
i. Food products in which the recombinant DNA and the resulting protein have been degraded due to processing. However, though the recombinant DNA or its protein is not present in high oleic acid soybean oil obtained from GM soybean, it is labelled as GM.
ii. Food products containing less than 5% of GM materials due to unintentional inclusion or adventitious presence.
Under these regulations it is prohibited to label a food product that does not have a GM counterpart and foods derived from them cannot be termed as non-GM; as this will give the erroneous impression that there are GM varieties of that crop and what is being offered is not a GM variety. It is however, permitted for the use of the phrase “at present, there is no GM [name of crop] on the market” in close proximity to the name of the product as prescribed by law. (Wong, 2003; Umeda, 2014)
HONG KONG 
Hong Kong has mandatory pre-market approval for GM ingredients, and a voluntary labeling scheme. The labeling of food in Hong Kong is undertaken by Health, Welfare, and Food Bureau; part V of the Page 7 of 16 Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Chapter 132) stipulates that all food (including GM foods) intended for sale in Hong Kong must be fit for human consumption. The Government of Hong Kong has issued guidelines for labeling of GM foods and encourages trade to use the voluntary labeling guidelines; providing reference for truthful positive and negative labels. The guidelines also cover standard terminologies and fundamental principles underlying the guidelines (Wong, 2003; CFS, 2006).
THE DEBATE 
 
Positive vs. Negative Labeling 
The use of positive labeling in GM food labeling is perceived as a tool for market limitation, as such labeling statements, are perceived as warnings to consumers who are skeptical of GMOs. It is argued to provide limited information, and fails to accurately define the consequences of consuming or patronizing GMO products from a safety or any other standpoint. Proponents further argue that positive labeling will promote GM foods that are transformed for improved nutrition or pharmaceutical attributes (Runge, 2001 & Hoffman, 2015).
For positive labeling to benefit the consumer, there is the need for a case by case labeling consideration that specifies attributes of the GM crop in question, otherwise even the benefits will be obscured by the limiting effect of consumer skepticism.
Since consumer choices for GM foods are based on either safety, health, nutrition, socioeconomic, ethical, religious, or environmental amongst other considerations, GM labeling statements should seek to directly address related consumer concerns; such a labeling statement that touches on all these concerns will be verbose, and take a lot of space on the label. Though current labeling statements provides a simplified scheme, it can contribute to the ignorance and misinformation of consumers as the effect of techniques used vary from one product to another, and consequently its impact on the issues under consideration. For instance GE crops that are drought resistant, salt tolerant, nutrient enriched or delayed ripening may not impact e.g. the environment in the same way as insect resistant and herbicide tolerant varieties for which there may be strong opposition.
GM food Labeling Policy and GM Crop Cultivation 
Observations made during the review of labeling policies above corroborate other study reports of a correlation between GM food labeling policies and cultivation of GM crops. The US, Canada and Argentina who are major producers of GM crops globally have voluntary labeling regulations as opposed to mandatory labeling regulations in Europe, Japan and Australia, where little or no cultivation of GM crops takes place (Zepeda, 2002; Buttel, 2002 as cited by Wong, 2003). South Africa and Brazil are producers that have a mandatory labeling policy.
Consumer Choice: Mandatory & Voluntary Labeling Policies 
Mandatory labeling is argued not to have placed products on the shelf, thus consumers do not get to make a choice. Rather it is said to have delivered processor and retailer choice, as GM food products never make it to the market on account of processor and retailer decisions. The current market situation in the EU, Japan and Australia where GM foods are not ubiquitous on the market despite the enforcement of mandatory labeling regulations (which intends to give consumers a choice), gives credence to the aforementioned assertion (Carter & Gruère, 2003a).
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For markets where anti-GMO advocacy and sentiments are very rife; it results in consumer skepticism, and the perception of positive GM food labeling statements as warnings. The perceived sales loss due to consumer skepticism, and the impact of environmental and consumer advocacy campaigns against labelled products strongly influence processors and retailer decisions to use non-GM certified materials to avoid GM food labeling.
The situation is reported to be further influenced by a relatively marginal price difference between nonGM and GM raw materials, and the fact that current traits of biotech crops are input traits which do not bring direct benefit to the consumers, but rather farmers and biotech companies. (Carter & Gruère, 2003a; GMO Compass, 2007a). Regulatory impact assessment carried out by Hong Kong in 2002 corroborated increased costs to trade for mandatory labeling framework; particularly for small to medium scale enterprises due to difficulties in securing contractual agreements with manufacturers in respect of GM status (Wong, 2003).
These observations suggest that mandatory labeling of GM foods may only deliver true consumer choice in markets where consumers are not extremely skeptical and/or are adequately informed through the provision of accurate information, such processors do not feel the threat of loss in using GM food ingredients. Such a case in point is Brazil, where a logo is used to identify foods derived from GMOs.
According to Carter & Gruère, 2003b only market forces are able to deliver true consumer choice; as the case is currently for Halal, Kosher, Fairtrade, Organic, Country-of-Origin, Ecolabels among others. Under a voluntary labeling scheme with guidelines for positive and negative labeling, consumers can demand for GM food and/or non-GM food to be labeled. In such an environment, sufficient demand by consumers for non-GM products will drive processors and retailers to respond to market demands.
RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS FOR MANDATORY & VOLUNTARY LABELLING SCHEME 
The implementation of the mandatory labeling scheme is practically the most demanding implementation scheme of the three labeling options; as it requires continuous monitoring, documentation evaluation and/or testing of all foods that have GM variants. The following are required for the successful implementation of both mandatory & voluntary labeling schemes:
1. Legislation

a. Principles for labeling i.e. process/proof based; mandatory/voluntary; positive/negative.

b. Exceptions – products exempted
c. Threshold levels
d. Traceability
e. Penalties
2. Monitoring and sampling plans – where, what, when, how to sample? 3. List of authorized GMOs in Ghana.
4. Testing laboratories.
5. Validated test methods.
6. Import export monitoring systems.
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A country assessment will be required to ascertain the level of preparedness; following which timelines for addressing gaps are determined. Following this assessment, the timeline for enforcement of mandatory GM labeling in Ghana will be determined.
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CONSIDERATIONS TOWARDS A GHANAIAN POSITION ON LABELLING OF GM FOODS 
 
Current Situation in Ghana 
The Biosafety Act, 2011, Act 831 requires pre-approval of GM crops for environmental release and placement on the market. The National Biosafety Authority is responsible for this process, working with several regulatory institutions through its Technical Advisory Committee and other experts. The Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority through their product registration and certification schemes respectively enforce mandatory food labeling legislations in Ghana. Current labeling legislations are the Ghana Standards Board (Food, Drugs and Other Goods) General Labelling Rules, 1992, LI 1541, and GS 46: 2004 Food Technology: Labelling of Pre-Packaged Foods. These legislations have no provisions on labeling of GM food. The lack of international consensus has stalled the process at Codex, and till date no Codex guidelines on labelling GM food. Ghana may therefore need to develop guidelines for GM food labeling following a decision on labelling of same.
Developing a Country Position 
According to the OECD, the Bio-Economy holds the key to emerging challenges of increase demand for healthcare and for agricultural, forestry, and fishing products associated with increasing incomes in developing countries. Several countries including Ghana in line with OECD Bio-Economy to 2030 policy agenda have adopted a biotechnology policy within its National Science and Technology Policy and set sector specific goals. The European Council in response has created an Innovation Union that focuses on Building a Bioeconomy by 2020, to help it overcome its financial and economic turmoil that occurred prior to 2010.
In this respect the EU spent over EUR 200 Million through its Framework Programme on Research over a ten (10) year period to develop agricultural management techniques for coexistence, tools for detection in and analysis of food and feed, and methods of risk assessment of GMOs in response to consumer, farmers and policy maker’s needs (EU 2010).
To develop a country position, it’s important for us to place our discussions in the above context. Additionally, we must assess the impact of the decision on our current trade policy with our major trading partners and their policies on labeling of GM foods. Answers to the following cascade of questions will also serve as a guide to focus the discussion on national interest and socioeconomic impact:
1. Why do we want to label GM foods?
2. Which labeling scheme will be most practical for Ghana – mandatory, voluntary and/or no labeling?
3. How will the choice made in 2 (above) impact Ghana’s National Science and Technology Policy on the promotion of biotechnology for the development of a bio-economy for Ghana.
4. What remedial measures can we put in place if the choice made in 3 (above) hampers the achievement of the National goal of a Bio-Economy using biotechnology?
Cost of Labeling 
The discussion on the cost of labeling goes beyond printing of labels which is negligible. The real cost of labeling lies in the proof of information declared on the label in respect of ingredient status as GM or non-GM. These include costs associated with monitoring, testing and enforcement programmes, development and maintenance of identity preservation, traceability and segregation systems, and compliance to regulations (verification of threshold levels). The cost of labeling is affected by the following factors: threshold level – low levels drive costs upward; capacity of industry to comply with regulations – low capacity drive costs upwards; and domestic production of GMOs – high local production drives costs upward. There is the need to undertake a regulatory impact assessment of the various labeling options to facilitate the decision making.
CONCLUSION
A national position for labeling is in the interest of consumers, farmers, policymakers, manufacturers, researchers and technology developers. The labeling of GM foods is an ongoing debate globally; progressive international consensus on safety of biotechnology and products of the same, particularly its use in agriculture notwithstanding, there are different national policies globally to serve idiosyncratic interests using the consumer right to know as the basis of their decision. It is important for Ghana to develop a national position and consequently a labeling scheme based on lessons drawn from the debate on the international front and establish its interest and priorities to arrive at a national position that will find its place in the international market place. To foster the development of Ghana’s Bioeconomy, it is essential that discussions focus on impact of proposals on indigenous research and technology companies, creating opportunity and protecting these enterprises to give them a competitive edge over large multinational companies locally and internationally. Prepared by Biosafety Unit Agro Product and Biosafety Department Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana ©2017
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