Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

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April 18, 2022
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Testbiotech comment on risk assessment and confined field trials with genetically engineered Bt cowpea conducted in Ghana

 

Testbiotech comment on risk assessment and confined field trials with genetically engineered Bt cowpea conducted in Ghana

Independent Expert Opinion, authored by Dr. Christoph Then and M.Sc. Juliana Miyazaki

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Dr. Latham JPEG cropped for 500Kb_0

March 31, 2022
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Dr. Latham Testifies In Ghana’s GMO Court Case

Hearing continues today at the Accra Human Rights Court over a lawsuit involving Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors. Dr. Jonathan Latham, the second scientific witness of Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), is set to testify at the Human Rights Court, on Thursday, 31st March, 2022.

Jonathan R Latham, PhD is co-founder and Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and the Editor of Independent Science News. Dr Latham is also the Director of the Poison Papers project which publicizes documents of the chemical industry and its regulators. Dr. Latham holds a Masters degree in Crop Genetics and a PhD in Virology. He was subsequently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has published scientific papers in disciplines as diverse as plant ecology, plant virology, genetics and genetic engineering. Dr Latham talks frequently at international events and scientific and regulatory conferences on the research conducted by the Project. He has written for Truthout, MIT Technology Review, the Guardian, Resilience, Salon.com, and many other magazines and websites.

FSG’s lawsuit is against the commercial release of Bt cowpea and NEWEST rice. As at the time of going to court, this was the first time human beings were going to be asked to eat this kind of genetically modified cowpeas. Even though the NBA of Nigeria has since authorised its release, the questions concerning its effect on human health, the environment and especially non-target organisms persist.

According to the proponents of the Bt cowpeas, such as the AFTAA, “The Bt bacterium is sold under different names and has been used in organic farming for over 50 years to control insect pests.” Dr. Latham’s witness statement indicates that the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is used in the Bt cowpea is itself genetically modified, and far more toxic than the naturally occurring ones. Dr. Latham is expected to testify that “in side-by-side tests Cry toxins produced by GMO crops usually had greater toxicological activity (towards pests and non- pests) than those produced in bacteria (Latham et al., 2017).

This result was confirmed for two Cry toxins described in a Monsanto patent. In US Patent No. 6,060,594 Monsanto describes how they made mutations in a natural Cry toxin called Cry3b. The mutations made this natural toxin into, in their own words, a “super toxin” (English et al., 2000). One such super toxin was subsequently used to make the commercial GMO maize MON863. Another was used to make GMO maize MON88017. The Cry toxin in MON863 was, according to the patent, 7.9-fold more active than the natural version. These enhanced toxins, claimed the patent, “have the combined advantages of increased insecticidal activity and concomitant broad spectrum activity.” Of course, “broad spectrum activity” is a highly undesirable and concerning outcome from the point of view of preserving non-target species. Monsanto did not share this finding with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What do these findings mean for the introduction of GMO cowpea containing a Cry1Ab toxin? The answer is simple: that one cannot rely for GMO safety on tests of Cry1Ab produced in a bacterium. Nor can one rely on tests of Cry1Ab produced in other crops. The effects of GMO cowpea on the human population, the livestock, and its ecosystems can only be tested by feeding that exact GMO crop to whatever potentially affected species Ghana wishes to safeguard. Specific tests are therefore necessary to show that GMO cowpea is safe to use under the conditions found in Ghana.

These biosafety tests, when performed, should specifically take into account 1) the multiple uses of cowpeas in Ghanaian cooking practices and their regional variations, 2) the multiple uses of cowpeas in Ghanaian agriculture and their regional variations, and 3) that cowpea interbreeds with wild relatives and that therefore GMO traits will inevitably escape into wild and semi-natural areas and will persist there, likely forever. It is my understanding that Ghana has certain legal obligations under the terms of the Cartagena Protocol and that the scientific observations mentioned above imply that unless such factors are taken into account Ghana will not have fulfilled those obligations.”

Dr. Latham will be giving his evidence today by zoom at the Accra Human Rights Court, at 2.00pm UTC.

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

February 22, 2022
by Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah
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Human Rights Court Hears Ghana’s First GMO Case

Accra, Monday 21 February, 2022

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Ghana’s first trial on the introduction of genetically modified foods into our agriculture.

The case for Food Sovereignty Ghana & 3 ors Vs National Biosafety Committee & 4 ors, SUIT NO. HRC/43/15, appeared before the Human Rights High Court in Accra on  February 16th and 17th 2022 in a continuation of the trial of Ghana’s first legal challenge of bioengineering in food.

FSG’s Communications Director, Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour sat in the witness box for cross examination by the Counsel for the 1st to 4th defendants on February 16th and the proceedings continued on February 17th.
 
Counsel for the fifth defendant also cross examined FSG’s witness. Lawyer Wayoe Ghanamannti raised several objections and also took a turn at cross examining the witness to establish the crux of his testimony with the court.

The court set March 1st 2022 as the date for the plaintiff’s second witness, Dr Christoph Then to be cross examined.

Dr. Christoph Then is Executive Director of Testbiotech (www.testbiotech.org). He studied veterinary medicine and has been working for about 20 years on issues in the field of biotechnology.

From 1992 until 1998 he coordinated the No Patent On Life! campaign in Germany. Till end of 2007 he was Greenpeace Germany’s expert and also Head of Department on Agriculture, Genetic Engineering and Consumer Affairs.

Testbiotech is acting as an independent expert group, dealing with the impact assessment of biotechnology. Testbiotech promotes independent research, examines ethical, social and economic issues and assesses risks to health and the environment. “No Patents On Seeds!” is an international coalition of civil society groups that is calling for the prohibition of patents on plants and animals.

FSG will again call as witness, Prof Latham from the USA to assist with this genetic engineering debate. We shall be announcing the details soon.

FSG is most grateful to these world-renowned scientists for graciously agreeing to testify on our behalf. We believe that Ghana is blessed to have these two genetic engineering experts to explain this highly scientific matter to the Court of Ghana because this is a critical global matter and not just about Ghana gov’t policy of getting Ghanaians to eat GMOs.

FSG has for the past nine years been advocating against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Ghana’s agriculture.

Seven years ago in 2015, at the first announcement of plans to commercially release genetically modified cowpeas and rice on the Ghanaian market by government agencies, FSG was left with no choice but to sue the relevant bodies connected to the intended approval for commercial release of Bt cowpeas and NEWEST rice. The case was filed in March 2015.

FSG’s main concern was that this was the first time humans were going to feed on this type of GM Cowpea.

Crucially, of great significance, is the absence of any long term epidemiological studies regarding its effects on human health and the environment.

The release  carrying news of an application for commercial release was also problematic because according to the Ghanaian Scientists themselves, the GMO cowpea would look no different from the conventional Songotra variety grown locally.

FSG’s Counsel, Lawyer Wayoe Ghanamannti, is holding forth in Court and we pray and know that the good spirits of the good people of Ghana are with FSG and our legal team as we fight to protect the food we all eat as citizens.

Hearing continues for our first witness, Communications Director, Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour. The court adjourned till February 28th at 1pm.


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
FSG Executives, Ras Aswad and Edwin Baffour at the Dromoh Chambers

November 11, 2021
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FSG Goes To Supreme Court Over UPOV Convention

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) today, Thursday, 11th November, 2021, filed a legal suit at the Supreme Court of Ghana challenging the constitutionality of the Plant Variety Protection Act, Act 1050, 2020.
 
In a Statement of Case filed today at the Supreme Court, by our lawyers, Dromoh Chambers, FSG is seeking an interpretation of whether or not the Constitution of Ghana was breached by the passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act and if Ghana was a party to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) at the time the Act 1050 was passed.
 
This court action is the culmination in our long struggle to uphold the rights of farmers to freely save, use, exchange and sell farm saved seed and other propagating materials. The claim states among others, that the UPOV 91 Convention is an unnecessary infringement on farmers’ rights because the WTO TRIPS Agreement makes room for other sui generis models that do take into consideration related international conventions and the Human Rights System such as the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and affirming the sovereign rights of States over their natural resources such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and implementing the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resource and the related traditional knowledge.
 
Please, see below, a link to a copy of the FSG Statement of Case filed at the Supreme Court today.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG
Contact:
Tel: +233 207973808
E-mail : info@foodsovereigntyghana.org
stopupov-1280x640

July 3, 2021
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FSG REJECTS ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S SLEIGHT OF HAND IN FORCING GHANA TO JOIN UPOV 1991

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) together with other civil society, as well as faith-based organisations in Ghana have waged a consistent and vociferous battle against Ghana’s Plant Variety Protection Bill, based on UPOV 1991 for several years. The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organisation with headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland). The 1991 Act of UPOV (UPOV 91) is a restrictive, draconian and inflexible legal regime, emanating from industrialised countries in response to the advent of large-scale commercial farming and commercial plant breeding and governs private rights.

The plant variety rights bill (PBR) was passed in December 2020, despite such push back in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. The PBR Act is extremely draconian and continues to be opposed as it not only grants extremely strong breeders’ rights, it is also a declaration of war against farmers because it provides for prison sentences of at least 10 (ten) years for violations of the act.

This odious PBR law contains a clause, which provides some small safeguards for the possibility for the implementation of farmers’ rights in Ghana in the future. However, this Clause 22, has been reinterpreted by the Attorney General of Ghana to force compliance with UPOV 1991.

Clause 22 makes plant breeder rights “subject to“, rather than “independent of” other regulations regarding the marketing of seeds.[1] This means that there is a possibility that for example, where a GM variety is not allowed to be placed on the variety list and allowed to be produced and marketed in Ghana in terms of its seed law, it may also not allow plant breeder’s rights from being granted in regard to such variety. The clause renders Ghana’s PBR law inconsistent with UPOV 1991 and does not allow Ghana to proceed to join UPOV 1991.

Art. 18 of UPOV 91 states: “The breeder’s right shall be independent of any measure taken by a Contracting Party to regulate [Commerce]”.

We are alarmed and outraged that the Honorable, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of Ghana, sent a letter to the Office of UPOV with the request to reaffirm the decision of the UPOV Council taken in 2013, that Ghana’s PBR Act is in conformity with UPOV 1991. In this regard, he has conveyed disingenuous interpretations of the clause to UPOV in an attempt to force compliance with UPOV 1991, which we totally reject. FSG together with APBREBES submitted a Comment [LINK] to UPOV in this regard.[2]

FSG is utterly dismayed that the government of Ghana is still pursuing the submission of the instruments of accession to the Convention of UPOV 91. We reiterate our strenous opposition to both the Act and Ghana joining UPOV 1991.

Food Sovereignty Ghana vehemently opposes numerous provisions and inadequacies of the PBR Act, such as the complete absence of any measures against biopiracy and especially the criminalisation of farmers. We demand the revision of the entire legislation and in particular Clause 60 dealing with offences. We thus affirm our strong opposition to UPOV 1991, which strengthens breeder’s rights and imposes new restrictions on farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell seed of protected varieties. UPOV 1991 has long-term effects of corporate monopolisation and corporate capture, diversion of seed and agricultural research and development in favour of extractive multinational markets, loss of biodiversity, human rights’ violations, social and political injustices and inequities and loss of national and farmer sovereignty over genetic resources.

We hereby demand that the Attorney General desist from forcing Ghana into joining UPOV 1991 and continue to oppose the PBR Act and demand the full implementation of farmers’ rights in Ghana.


For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

Contact:

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


[1] In the draft PVP Bill of 2013 Clause 23 stated that, “A plant breeder right shall be independent of any measure taken by the Republic to regulate [Commerce]”. This was changed in the new law (now clause 22) to read: “A plant breeder right is subject to any measure taken by the Republic to regulate [Commerce]”.

[2] Comments by APBREBES on the document “Developments on the Plant Variety Protection Act (Act 1050 of 2020) of Ghana” (document C/Developments/2021/1) https://www.apbrebes.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/Comments%20PVP%20Act%20of%20Ghana_APBREBES_fin.pdf

June 1, 2021
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March 1, 2021
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Researchers want GMO transparency