The Speaker of Parliament and the Parliamentary Sub-committee on Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs appear determined to ignore the voices of the Ghanaian people and to give away Ghana’s sovereignty and control of our food supply and place it at the mercy of foreign multinational corporations. Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) was not invited to participate at any meeting with the Parliamentary Sub-committee on Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs and other stakeholders agreeing to support the Plant Breeders Bill. The Parliamentarians allege that Food Sovereignty Ghana and other stakeholder groups did participate in such a meeting in order to give themselves political cover. Food Sovereignty Ghana condemns this allegation as a blow against Ghana’s independence as a nation, against the safety and security of our food supply, and against the health of our people.
The Plant Breeder’s Bill is about granting intellectual property rights, and allowing ownership over new plant varieties. We presently have a situation here in Ghana where plant breeders, in particular the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and universities which are in fact supported by taxpayers, are insisting that they should be allowed to claim private intellectual property rights for their work, which actually should be treated as public property. The entire basis of the Plant Breeders’ Bill is fraudulent.
It is sad that Parliament is ignoring the concerns of bodies like the General Agricultural Workers Union of the TUC (GAWU) Catholic Bishops Conference of Ghana, The Association of former Parliamentarians, The University Students Association of Ghana, Coalition for Farmers Rights and Advocacy against GMOs (COFAM), Food Sovereignty Ghana and many others and is planning to go ahead to pass the Plant Breeders Bill under the deception that it will enhance the work of the local researchers. On the contrary, Food Sovereignty Ghana wants to point out that the Memorandum to the Plant Breeders Bill states that one of its aims is to encourage privatization of plant breeding and opening the doors for foreign multinational agribusiness to control our seeds. Otherwise why would the Bill specifically encourage the registration of foreign plant breeders and their agents? What FSG finds most obnoxious is that plant breeders will be given full authority to collect royalties from farmers and restrict use of the protected varieties.
Parliament is not even mindful of the effect the Plant Breeders Bill will have on indigenous small holder farmers if it comes into law in Ghana. The law puts the rights of the poor farmer at the discretion of the Minister for Agriculture, whilst Clause 23 of the Bill puts the rights of the multinational plant breeder over and above that of the state, even where our health and the environment are on the line!
Food Sovereignty Ghana condemns the Plant Breeders Bill as a blow against Ghana’s independence as a nation, against the safety and security of our food supply, and against the health of our people.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Duke Tagoe Deputy Chairperson, FSG Website: http://foodsovereigntyghana.
org/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ FoodSovereignGH Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ FoodSovereigntyGhana