Food Sovereignty Ghana

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

13179234_1006294359461082_6762762801821844896_n

May 20, 2017
by admin
0 comments

Accra Marches Against Monsanto Today!

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) and hundreds of concerned Ghanaians and a good representation of foreigners will congregate in the La Township of Accra Ghana on Saturday May 20th to observe in solidarity with hundreds of thousands around the world, the annual March Against Monsanto. This is the fourth consecutive March observed by FSG in Ghana.

Monsanto is well known for its irresponsible and controversial corporate practices and it is no wonder that there is so much international consensus across the planet on the need to bring justice to the many issues that infringe upon the rights of individuals, groups and entire nations across the globe. The poisonous glyphosate based flagship chemical “Round Up” sold by Monsanto has found its way into most African countries including Ghana and the overwhelming evidence exposing the carcinogenic nature of the chemical has sadly not registered as fact with our local policy makers. The findings of the recent Monsanto Tribunal provide enough evidence to make the informed decision to keep Ghana organic however these calls seem to perpetually fall on deaf ears.

With the nation’s recent rude awakening to the real impact of galamsey (illegal small scale mining) activities and the consequent implications on human health and the environment, FSG seeks to use the March to send a clear message to key stakeholders of an impending disaster of national dimensions in the coming years if there is not a dynamic shift away from large scale commercial agriculture with its heavy dependence on energy and chemical inputs. A recent documentary by Joy news also exposes the rampant misuse of chemicals in our food production systems and therefore it is high time we pay heed to this unsustainable way forward in our agriculture. The cost to human health and the environment is too high to bear hence the principled position that FSG has taken ever since its inception in 2013.

A court in California recently ruled on a case involving the controversial glyphosate based chemicals and has ordered all products containing the carcinogenic ingredient to have a mandatory label warning potential consumers of the high risk of cancer.  The financial power behind the corporate lobbying for Monsanto results in decisions and policies implemented in countries across the world which do not endure to the benefit of the local population. Directly impacted are the often majority of the population being the peasant farmers.

FSG recently celebrated the International Day of Peasants’ struggle and expressed concern that the rights of the peasant have never been under more pressure since the beginning of time. There are many factors affecting peasant welfare in a negative manner and many are due to the result of unethical and irresponsible corporate practices of companies like Monsanto.  This opposition to chemical dependent farming is growing across the world with louder calls from across the board for a return to more agro ecological farm practices to ensure the sustainability of the environment.http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/scientist-call-for-increase-to-agro-research-funding-0508#.WPSimPnyipo, http://permaculturenews.org/2014/09/26/un-small-farmers-agroecology-can-feed-world/

In vindication of FSG’s position for the past few years, Monsanto, the world’s leading Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seeds producer is facing challenges in Burkina Faso after that country rejected GMO cotton and began a phased withdrawal of the novel products. Farmers have now returned to growing conventional seeds. Cotton production in Burkina Faso, one of Africa’s top growers, is likely to cross 800,000 tons in 2017-18 season, according to the country’s cotton association. In 2016-17, farmers in Burkina Faso produced 683,000 tons of cotton, around 17 per cent more than the 586,000 tons harvested in 2015-2016… see: Burkina Faso’s cotton output on the rise after going NON-#GMO: https://t.co/7wlzo2Sr7c

March Against Monsanto, is an international grassroots movement against Monsanto corporation, in protest of the company’s practices of using their affluence to influence the outcome of legislations, regulations, research findings, media narratives, etc. The movement was founded by Tami Canal in response to the failure of California Proposition 37, a ballot initiative which would have required labeling food products made from GMOs. Monsanto was reported to have poured in $7,100,500 to help narrowly defeat California’s Proposition 37.

Since the huge success of the first march, the movement has been growing from strength to strength and a larger number of cities and countries are expected this year.

Why do we march in Accra?

This year’s march comes at a time where Parliament is reopening with the Plant Breeders’ Bill still compliant to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants UPOV, a rather rigid set of intellectual property rights regime that is not suited to our socio-economic conditions. This UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, aka “Monsanto Law”, is on its agenda. What is at stake is the farmer’s right “to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material”.

The bill in Clause 21 (2), puts farmers’ rights at the discretion of the Minister for Agriculture, which equates to not rights at all. The same bill in Clause 23, makes the rights of the plant breeder independent of the laws of Ghana.

“Farmers’ Rights” according to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), of which Ghana is a signatory, include the right of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material; the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and the right to the protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. It also recognizes “the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centers of origin and crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world”

Despite several calls for a report on the almost four-year old “consultations” by respective Parliamentary Select-Committee responsible, we are yet to receive any favourable response. The absence of the report makes the entire process an affront to the sensibilities of Ghanaians. The public has an interest to know what petitions were presented, their full content, and why the Committee in its wisdom is proceeding, in the light of these objections.

It is difficult to see how Parliament is going to proceed with the consideration of the Plant Breeders’ Bill without the publication of such a comprehensive report. This shall be in contravention of the call for “further consultation” by the Speaker, “because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”.

It is a pleasure to be part of what has become the most powerful statement of the ordinary person in the street against the deep pockets of giant lobbies, promoting GMOs, facilitating biopiracy, suppressing farmers’ rights, and other mischiefs.

We are marching to protest the continued imposition of GMOs on Ghanaians by our political class, aided and abetted by scientists blinded often by conflicts of interests and inducements from the GM lobby.

We are marching because, at a time where the monumental failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso is an open secret, we would like to see scientists like Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, Plant Breeder and Principal Investigator for Bt Cotton research at the CSIR-Savanna Agric. Research Institute (SARI), Nyankpala, Tamale, recant their justification for their embrace of Bt cotton:

“We realised that Burkina Faso, which is our next door neighbour is growing Bt Cotton commercially and as a result of that they are making a lot of progress in their cotton industry. First of all, the farmers are getting very high yields and as a result they are getting good income out of that and apart from that we also realised that Bt Cotton saves farmers a lot of time and energy and also we thought because with the Bt, it is resistant to the major insect pests in cotton production – the Bollworm complex,”

Meanwhile, if anything at all, the spectacular failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso should be a good reason why Ghana must be considering other agroecological solutions rather than the failed technology that impoverishes farmers and enriches the seed corporations.

We are marching to highlight the need to learn the appropriate lessons from the international environment under which the march is taking place this year. The recent leaks of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have added a new sense of urgency and the importance of the march. We take note that the thrust of the agreements is to enhance corporate power through legal mechanisms. The Panama Papers give us some ideas with what they do with the money they steal from us!

What solutions do we advocate?

As this march takes place at a time the Parliament of Ghana is reopening with the Plant Breeders’ Bill at the top of its agenda, we call on Parliament to completely withdraw the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill and replace it with a “sui generis” plant variety protection (PVP) system suitable to our conditions.

We strongly believe that it is about time that our Parliament shifts the discussion on the controversial and immensely dangerous UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill to a focus on a “sui generis” PVP system for Ghana.

We have already pointed out that Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Under this, Ghana has full flexibility to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs.

There is no need for Ghana to allow our laws dictated to us from an organisation like UPOV in Geneva.

We call for an indefinite moratorium or complete ban on the cultivation of GM crops in Ghana until the science of GM foods and human health, as well as environmental impact, has been thoroughly studied and cleared as safe by independent science rather than corporate-driven, profit-oriented scientists and regulators, ridden with conflicts-of-interest.

We humbly call on the Nana Akufo Addo administration to orientate government policy on agriculture towards what all the experts are saying: agroecology. The technology currently exists that is developing drought-resistant, pest resistant and high yielding crops through traditional breeding and selection. Marker Assisted Agro-ecological farming is not only inexpensive, and sustainable, it is far more successful than GM technology.

Agroecological techniques are already safely and inexpensively producing crops with increasing yields plus tolerance and resistance to environmental stressors. We should forget GMOs and concentrate on agroecological agriculture. The only reason why our “development partners” are opposed to this is because their multinational corporations shall lose the attempts to monopolize our food through GMO patents. They see our agricultural wealth as raw material to be extracted from Ghana in order to power their economic engine. We need to control and develop our agricultural wealth to power Ghana’s economic engine.

That’s why we invite all to join us as we March Against Monsanto here in Accra.

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/FoodSovereigntyGhan

RIR Loreans C-fuTgZXgAA-aV6

May 9, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Declaration of the International Meetings of the Resistances to GMOs

RIR bandeau_rir

International Meetings of the Resistance against GMOs : final declaration

Rencontres Internationales des Résistances aux OGM

Lorient, Brittany, 30th April 2017

Following the international meetings of convergence of Resistance to GMOs in Ouagadougou, April 2016, [organised by the Collectif citoyen pour l’Agroécologie CCAE], following the Peoples Assembly & International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, October 2016, following the First Seed Olympiad, Paranesti, Greece, April 2017, we, of the Resistance in 28 countries in 5 continents, meeting in Lorient, Brittany, 28-30 April 2017, in order to build convergence, on the occasion of this the second International Convergence of the Resistance againt GMOs, do declare :

Our seed, our knowledge and our know-how are a proud cultural heritage, not merchandise, and we alone decide with whom they are to be shared. We refuse to see them stolen by industry for genetic manipulation and privatisation under patent property rights, proceeding thus to wipe out, in country after country, all the local plant varieties and local livestock breeds. Industrial interests, moreover, cannot fool all the people all the time when they try to pass off their latest (and dissimulated) innovations as traditional varieties.

We have therefore decided :

- to exercise our legitimate right to conserve, use, exchange and sell our farmers seed and to participate in decisions concerning their destiny, whether or not these rights are recognised by legislation ;

- to everywhere protect or create local varietal conservatories for farmers seed, managed by the community ;

- to organise the validating and propagating of our farmers knowledge and know-how and to pass them on to posterity in schools and universities ;

- to work for the adoption in other instances of the opinion rendered by the Peoples Tribunal on the crimes of Monsanto, implicating also other destroyers of the very fundamentals of terrestrial life. Ecocide has begun.

Year after year, pesticides and GMOs provoke terrible damage to the health of millions of people, and this with the complicity of politicians and industries. Their impunity is no longer tolerable.

There is a cruel lack of independent basic research into the impact of GMOs and pesticides.

The Agro-Ecology proposition covers more than a method of production, it advocates :

- agricultural production without inputs of synthetic chemistry or genetic manipulation of plants and animals ;

- the nourishment and the food sovereignty of all peoples ;

- the autonomous organisation of local food systems ;

- the autonomy of the farmers and of their human-scale farms ;

- the necessary attention to the fertility of the soil.

It contributes to limiting climate change, it is our way of life, our way of thinking and our way of being part of society. The human race is part of the ecosystem and its biodiversity and has a rôle to play in maintaining their equilibrium.

In furtherance of agro-ecological values we shall be working with local authorities to resist land-grabbing, to maintain farm land in practices that exclude synthetic chemicals and other artificial inputs. We shall work for the education of youth, for their access to agricultural occupations, for restoring to citizens a new confidence in their own skills and values, and for improving the status and integration of women.

The role of farmland is to nourish the people and not to enrich the financiers or speculators in the carbon market, nor should land-grabbing be allowed for these latter purposes.

We can no longer remain passive. We are pacific but not docile. Determined as we are to resist and struggle in convergence against ecocide, we therefore today create the International Front of Resistance against GMOs and the agrochemicals industry.

The foundation of this front is today laid in Brittany. We commit ourselves to develop it in opposition to the corporations whose objective is the control of the world’s food systems.

Lorient, Brittany, 30 April 2017, signed in resistance

Group photograph of participants at the international meetings of convergence of Resistance to GMOs, Lorient, France, April, 28- 30, 2017

Group photograph of participants at the international meetings of convergence of Resistance to GMOs, Lorient, France, April, 28- 30, 2017

 

Food Sovereignty Ghana is most grateful to the Collective Rir-Gmos 2017 whic brings together various organizations and networks of Brittany, including the committee breton in support of volunteer reapers, ingalañ, Brittany alive Le collectif Rir-OGM 2017 réunit divers organisations et réseaux de Bretagne, dont le Comité breton de soutien aux faucheurs volontaires, Ingalañ, Bretagne Vivante

Food Sovereignty Ghana is most grateful to the Collective Rir-Gmos 2017 whic brings together various organizations and networks of Brittany, including the committee breton in support of volunteer reapers, ingalañ, Brittany alive
Le collectif Rir-OGM 2017 réunit divers organisations et réseaux de Bretagne, dont le Comité breton de soutien aux faucheurs volontaires, Ingalañ, Bretagne Vivante

 

Food Sovereignty Ghana at the 2017 International Meeting of Resistances to GMOs in Lorient, France, 28 - 30 April 2017. Front row, left to right, Ms. Nana Ama Amamoo, Deputy Chairperson of FSG, and Mr. Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah, Chairperson of FSG (in white) at the opening ceremony.

Food Sovereignty Ghana at the 2017 International Meeting of Resistances to GMOs in Lorient, France, 28 – 30 April 2017. Front row, left to right, Ms. Nana Ama Amamoo, Deputy Chairperson of FSG, and Mr. Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah, Chairperson of FSG (in white) at the opening ceremony.

C9l7MhcXgAE12sJ

April 17, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

FSG observes the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle

"Under the partnership, Dizengoff Ghana will bring its products to the door-step of farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions at reduced prices". Unfortunately, FSG is aware of the fact that Dizengoff Ghana Ltd  one of such products is Monsanto's Roundup. See: http://dizengoffgh.com/agric/2012/05/04/agro-chemicals/ We call on the government to ensure that the use of such a highly toxic and controversial chemical is suspended until the science becomes very clear. We must not use Ghanaians as guinea pigs in such a dangerous experiment!

“Under the partnership, Dizengoff Ghana will bring its products to the door-step of farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions at reduced prices”.
Unfortunately, FSG is aware of the fact that Dizengoff Ghana Ltd one of such products is Monsanto’s Roundup. See: http://dizengoffgh.com/agric/2012/05/04/agro-chemicals/
We call on the government to ensure that the use of such a highly toxic and controversial chemical is suspended until the science becomes very clear. We must not use Ghanaians as guinea pigs in such a dangerous experiment!

Food Sovereignty Ghana stands in solidarity with all progressive people around the world to salute and celebrate the International Day of Peasants’ struggle.  We fully recognize this distinguished group of humanity who provide the majority of food we consume on the planet. For millennia mankind has depended on peasant farmers to provide the daily nutritional needs of our communities and they continue to remain a most significant pillar in the organisational structure of any nation.

FSG is however highly concerned that the rights of the peasant have never been under more pressure since the beginning of time.  There are many factors affecting peasant welfare in a negative manner and FSG calls upon the stakeholders of the world’s food production systems to incorporate more sustainable models of agriculture to ensure a balanced approach.  It is only this dynamic shift of thought which will provide the much needed relief that millions of peasants desperately require.  It is almost beyond the deadline for governments to develop the political will and support their citizens and the environment.

This celebration is observed at a time when there are more and more calls from across the board for a return to more agroecological farm practices to ensure the sustainability of the environment.

As the most important stakeholders in the food production value chain, peasant farmers deserve to be respected and have their rights protected to ensure they continue to play the invaluable role that they have played for millennia.

Farmers rights include the ability to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and these are under heavy threat from the proposed Plant Breeders’ Bill. Specifically to this effect FSG reiterates its call on the honourable house of Parliament to publishthe report on the Civil Society and Faith Based Organization consultations on the Plant Breeders’ Bill (PBB). 

We repeat our observations and calls we made on the absence of the  International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture  (ITPGRFA) , Parliament Beats a Retreat on Plant Breeders’ Bill! | https://foodsovereigntyghana.org/parliament-beats-a-retreat-on-plant-breeders-bill/  Food Sovereignty Ghana, which we made as far back as November 27, 2014:

“We would like to see in any future bill, a clear statement of farmers rights and the absence of any form of criminalization of farmers such as what we saw in Clause 58 of the rejected bill.  In the Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on The Plant Breeders’ Bill, November, 2013, we witness the conspicuous absence of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) among the documents referenced. This is an unconscionable omission. Ghana is a signatory to this treaty. It is the treaty that protects and supports farmers rights. As a member of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGRFA) we expect Ghana to take steps to realize farmers’ rights to use, sell, save and exchange farm-saved seeds, to protect their traditional knowledge and to allow their participation in national decision-making. The bill must preserve Ghana’s sovereign independence and must protect the DNA of Ghana’s traditional seeds from biopiracy.”

We must warn the government and Parliament to be aware of the interests behind the massive lobbying activities of the transnational corporations in support the Plant Breeders’ Bill, and be reminded that their primary duty is to the welfare of Ghanaians.

A properly written report, detailing the various objections to the PBB in the petitions, and the reasons why our MPs think they must not be taken into consideration, if any, must be made known to all Ghanaians. Transparency is the key and on this day when we recognize the daily struggles and celebrate their triumphs over what could be avoidable obstacles we feel that Ghana owes it to our peasant farmers to ensure their welfare.  In so doing we automatically safeguard our future food supply as well as protect the environment and livelihood of almost sixty percent of our population.

In place of the proposed PBB which is so unfortunately inspired by the very controversial UPOV 91 plant variety protection regime, we humbly urge the government of Ghana and Parliament to consider and adopt a “sui generis” PVP system which also takes care of plant breeder rights as well as those of farmers, as this also fulfils WTO obligations.

On such a momentous occasion we call on the government of Ghana to pay great attention to the sustainability factor in implementing its proposed “Planting for food for jobs” programme.  Any programme to achieve the sort of targets identified will require much attention to detail in ensuring that factors such as soil fertility, climate change, equitable access to land, information and inclusion in policy making are addressed.

In light of the upcoming proposed launch of the national ‘Planting for Food and Jobs program at Goaso, capital of the Asunafo Municipality in the Brong-Ahafo Region on April 19, 2017, we call on H.E. President Akufo Addo to reconsider the negative impact on the Ghanaian environment and her citizens that the incorporation of chemicals such as the controversial and harmful Monsanto manufactured “Roundup” which has been linked to cancer by much independent research will pose.  The United Nations has diplomatically stated that “Glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization announced on 20 March 2015 that #glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. (Guyton, K. Z. et al. Lancet Oncol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8 (2015).)

To this end, FSG is very disturbed about the likelihood that such a dangerous chemical will play a key role in the government’s preferred path to achieve food security.  It is absolutely unsustainable to think that 250,000 farmers will be encouraged to utilize on their crops and land a chemical that has earned a controversial status all over the world where its negative effects are now well documented.  In support of our position we share the recent court decision in California to become the first US state to declare Glyphosate causes cancer http://www.ecowatch.com/california-roundup-cancer-warning-2…

According to news reports, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, explains that the programme, a new initiative and intervention introduced by the government to promote national food security and job creation, “interested farmers  would be provided with free seedlings and other agricultural inputs and agro-chemicals such as fertilizers at reduced prices”.  Mr Asomah-Cheremeh made this known at the launching of the KVCL/Dizengoff partnership project in Sunyani.

We also learn that:

“Under the partnership, Dizengoff Ghana will bring its products to the door-step of farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions at reduced prices”.

Unfortunately, FSG is aware of the fact that Dizengoff Ghana Ltd  one of such products is Monsanto’s Roundup. See: http://dizengoffgh.com/agric/2012/05/04/agro-chemicals/

We call on the government to ensure that the use of such a highly toxic and controversial chemical is suspended until the science becomes very clear. We must not use Ghanaians as guinea pigs in such a dangerous experiment!

We join independent experts all over the world as we point to agroecology as the way forward. Peasant farmers are scientists with indigenous knowledge who understand their land, the flora and fauna that live in their surroundings and we must harness this ancient wisdom that maintained the sustainability of ecosystems for millennia.

FSG wishes all peasant farmers and their families a happy International Day of Peasants’ struggle!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

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

Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu, 
Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament

March 5, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Hon. Osei-Owusu Insults CSOs, FBOs…

Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu,  Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament

Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu,
Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) totally rejects the false impression that the chairman of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu, sought to create during the vetting of Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, that FSG is “misleading various agencies for them to issue statements which are totally out of place”.

Indeed, FSG considers this as a clear insult to the respectable organisations that have so far petitioned Parliament over the Plant Breeders’ Bill.

There are several groups that took the initiative to petition Parliament without any prompting from FSG. We can mention the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), The Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Rastafari Council, Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) and Food Span, and respectable faith-based organisations such as the National Catholic Secretariat of Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (NCS/GCBC), Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Marshallan Relief and Development Services (MAREDES), Federation of Muslim Women of Ghana (FOMWAG), Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM),  Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana (AMM-G), Religious Bodies Network for Climate Change (RELBONET), Ahlussuna Wal Jama’a (ASWAJ), Office of the National Chief Imam (ONCI), to name but few.

The false impression that FSG is the main body that stands in opposition to the UPOV model for the Plant Breeders’ Bill and is misleading all others to oppose the Bill is mischievous and serves no other purpose than an attempt to diminish the obvious groundswell of opposition, in order to ignore it.

We find it unacceptable that after so many years of consultations, there is still no official report on the outcome of these consultations. All that we have heard so far are utterances from individual MPs that the consultations are over, without any formal response to the various petitions to Parliament over the issue.

What is “completely out of place” are the remarks that “the Plant Breeders’ Bill has nothing to do with GMOs”, without any attempt to address the pertinent issues that have been raised against the the Bill.

“Sui Generis” Plant Variety Protection…

Food Sovereignty Ghana, together with various groups have called for a “sui generis plant variety protection system, in accordance with the WTO rules, rather than the UPOV 91 convention. See: Replace Plant Breeders’ Bill With A “Sui Generis” PVP System. | Food Sovereignty Ghana, April 27, 2016 https://foodsovereigntyghana.org/replace-plant-breeders-bill-with-a-sui-generis-pvp-system/

It is also instructive to note that the Petition to Parliament signed by over 50 organisations from Africa and around the world concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty, promoting farmers’ rights and self-determination and citizen involvement in the decision-making process, never mentions GMOs even once in their objections to the Plant Breeders’ Bill! The list of signatories include organisations as far and near as the Alliance For Food Sovereignty (AFSA), African Biodiversity Network, Actions pour le Développement Durable/ Actions for sustainable Development NGO (Benin), African Centre for Biosafety (South Africa), Alternative Agriculture Network (Thailand), Berne Declaration (Switzerland),  Bia´lii, Asesoría e Investigación, A.C.(Mexico), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, GRAIN International, Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), Terra Nuova (Italy), Third World Network (Malaysia), Verein zur Erhaltung der Nutzpflanzenvielfalt-(Seed Savers’Association, Germany), South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (Nepal), National Farmers Union (Canada)  See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! |  http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitimacy-it-must-be-revised/

So what explains this one size fits-all responses we are getting from our MPs? How about coming out with a report on Parliament’s official response to these petitions and their “consultations”? Is that also too much to ask? For the avoidance of any doubts, Food Sovereignty Ghana calls on Parliament to completely withdraw the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill and replace it with a “sui generis” plant variety protection (PVP) system suitable to our conditions. See: Replace Plant Breeders’ Bill With A “Sui Generis” PVP System. | Food Sovereignty Ghana http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/replace-plant-breeders-bill-with-a-sui-generis-pvp-system/

We demand a report from Parliament that explains the option to be UPOV 91 compliant when all the experts are saying this serves corporate interests rather than Ghana’s own interests? See: UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” GIZ: http://www.giz.de/…/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf:

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

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

Cc
Rt. Hon Speaker, Parliament of Ghana
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu,
Clerk To Parliament
Media Houses

Share on Facebook:

February 16, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Parliament Distorts Opposition To Plant Breeders’ Bill!

“Food Sovereignty appeared before our committee and we gave them the opportunity to prove that the bill is about GMO. They couldn't. They actually apologized and withdrew. And yet the day after, they went and issued a statement. So, for me it is important that we clarify these things, rather than misleading various agencies for them to issue statements which are totally out of place.”  - Hon. Joe Osei Owusu

“Food Sovereignty appeared before our committee and we gave them the opportunity to prove that the bill is about GMO. They couldn’t. They actually apologized and withdrew. And yet the day after, they went and issued a statement. So, for me it is important that we clarify these things, rather than misleading various agencies for them to issue statements which are totally out of place.”
- Hon. Joe Osei Owusu

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) is deeply concerned about utterances from the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu, when the issue of the Plant Breeders’ Bill was raised during the vetting of Hon. Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Agriculture. We are left with the distinct impression that Parliament is keen on passing the Plant Breeders’ Bill without addressing the fundamental questions raised by Ghanaians from all walks of life, which prompted the former Speaker to call for consultations with the public. FSG condemns the attempts at ignoring all other objections to the bill, with the refrain that it has “nothing to do with GMOs”! We consider them as indicative of the Parliament’s insensitive decision to ignore ALL other objections to the bill.

Giving the impression that all opposition to the Plant Breeders’ Bill is because of its connection with GMOs is completely dishonest. Indeed, Parliament is actually in possession of petitions against the Plant Breeders’ Bill that do not even mention GMOs! Equally misleading is the impression that FSG is the main body that stands in opposition to the UPOV model for the Plant Breeders’ Bill. It is not too difficult to understand the intentions behind such pronouncements against FSG, but it is difficult to understand why Parliament is not being transparent in reporting its consultations with civil society, faith-based organisations, and other entities on this important issue.

The right question we expect the media to ask our Parliamentarians is whether the only thing they see in the petitions on the Plant Breeders’ Bill is the linkage with GMOs? What about farmers’ rights? What about Clause 23? What about biopiracy? What about smuggling in UPOV under WTO TRIPPS rules which call for simply a “sui generis” Plant Variety Protection that can also adequately protect our local plant breeders?

Publish Report On Consultations…

FSG has been calling on Parliament for some time now, to come out with a report on their consultations with various organisations and entities over the Plant Breeders’ Bill. We have similarly called for the publication of the proceedings of our meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, as far back as Wednesday, 4th December, 2013. FSG believes this will be the best way to ensure transparency and assure the public that the right things are being done on their behalf by our Parliament, so far as the Plant Breeders’ Bill is concerned.

To date there is no public record of this encounter. This has allowed some MPs to provide distorted versions of what actually took place, whenever they please, without any challenge, as we saw in the false claims by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu before the Appointments Committee:

Food Sovereignty appeared before our committee and we gave them the opportunity to prove that the bill is about GMO. They couldn’t. They actually apologized and withdrew. And yet the day after, they went and issued a statement. So, for me it is important that we clarify these things, rather than misleading various agencies for them to issue statements which are totally out of place.”

His statement is patently false and offensive. It is also mischievous as it seeks to create the impression that the only matter discussed was the link between the Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs! The statement is nonsensical and malicious because at the said meeting, the link between the Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs was indeed raised, but no apologies were given. There was disagreement on both sides until Professor Walter Sando Alhassan, the man the Committee had invited as one of their own experts on the subject, confirmed there was a definite link. That was how the matter ended. There was no need for apologies to be provided, no apology was called for, and none was given. The FSG account of what actually took place has been made public in a Communiqué since December 8, 2013. It was even published on the Parliament’s own website until it was redesigned! See: COMMUNIQUÉ: FSG Meets Parliament Over Plant Breeders’ Bill | Food Sovereignty Ghana, December 8, 2013: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/communique-fsg-meets-parliament-over-plant-breeders-bill/

FSG finds it unacceptable, that there is no official record of our meeting with Parliament available, but MPs stand on official platforms to peddle misinformation. We have been here before. On November 19, 2014, FSG asked, “Why is his Committee refusing to make public the records of the proceedings of our meeting with them? Is he suggesting that our fundamental objection to the UPOV-compliant plant variety protection (PVP) regime was relaxed? ” See: Investigate Bagbin Over Plant Breeders’ Bill! | Food Sovereignty Ghana https://foodsovereigntyghana.org/744/

If we cannot even trust our own elected representatives to accurately report their encounters with civil society organisations, then there is something fundamentally wrong with our democracy. It remains our legitimate expectation that elected representatives of the people report accurately to Ghanaians about their meetings with civil society organisations. We therefore demand unqualified apologies from the chairman of the Appointments Committee, and a publication of the proceedings at the said meeting by Parliament.

GMOs And The Plant Breeders’ Bill…

We also find it strange that the chairman of the Appointments Committee even deviated from the issue of GMOs to discuss the Plant Breeders’ Bill, when we had not even mentioned the Bill even once in our memorandum to the Appointments Committee. See: Memorandum Calling for the Rejection of Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture | Food Sovereignty Ghana http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/memorandum-calling-for-the-rejection-of-dr-owusu-afriyie-akoto-minister-designate-for-food-and-agriculture/

Indeed our actual petition to Parliament on the Plant Breeders’ Bill bears eloquent witness to the fact that it is patently false and mischievous to create the dishonest impression that our fundamental concern with the Plant Breeders’ Bill is because of GMOs! See: PETITION TO PARLIAMENT ON THE PLANT BREEDERS’ BILL, 2013. | Food Sovereignty Ghana, November 24, 2013 http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/petition-to-parliament-on-the-plant-breeders-bill-2013/

On the contrary, as a summary of our opposition to the Plant Breeders’ Bill states in our last call on Parliament to publish the report on “consultations” over the Plant Breeder’s Bill, dated here Mar 31, 2016, there is not even a single mention of GMOs! To date, there has been no response.Parliament appears to be deliberately diverting attention away from what we have always considered to be the fundamental flaws in the Bill. Our MPs appear to have conveniently developed a mantra to drown out any opposition to the Bill, irrespective of what it is about, with the refrain, “the Plant Breeders’ Bill has nothing to do with GMOs”! Never mind the burning issues concerning biopiracy, or the criminalisation of farmers! Why are these other issues not being addressed by our MPs?

For clarity and emphasis, we reproduce the relevant part of the statement, Publish report on “consultations” over Plant Breeder’s Bill!’ | Food Sovereignty Ghana, Mar 31, 2016, Pambazuka News. https://www.pambazuka.org/food-health/publish-report-consultations-over-plant-breeders-bill, here:

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, the last time the Bill came up on the floor of the House at the Consideration Stage, the Speaker ruled: “I would urge for further consultation”, he said to Hon. Alban Bagbin, Majority Leader and then Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. This call for “further consultation” was key to the unprecedented suspension of a Bill that was already at the Consideration Stage. The reason the Speaker gave for this unprecedented move was: “This is because it is important to inform the people of Ghana”. http://www.parliament.gh/publications/30/906

It therefore behoves the Committee to produce an official report detailing the “consultations” they claim to have done for all to know why Parliament still refuses to heed the demands of Ghanaian civil society groups and faith-based organisations that have formally petitioned them. The minimum courtesy one expects is at least a report detailing why their objections have not been taken into consideration. We particularly demand responses to these fundamental objections to the Plant Breeders’ Bill. All of these objections apply equally to the ARIPO Arusha PVP Protocol, a treaty version of the exact same Bill.

1. 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.

Ghana has full flexibility under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs. In view of this, it is truly unfortunate and even irrational that instead of designing a PVP regime that reflects the agricultural framework and realities of Ghana as some other countries have done (e.g. India, Thailand, Ethiopia), Ghana is choosing to adopt and be bound by UPOV 1991 without any concrete evidence or impact assessment of the necessity and impacts of adopting such a regime.

Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organization and the rights and obligations concerning intellectual property are governed by the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). According to Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement, Ghana has to provide protection of plant varieties by an “effective sui generis” system. Sui generis means “unique” system of protection. This provision allows Ghana maximum flexibility in the design of plant variety protection (PVP). This is what many developing countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India have done. The African Union Ministers have also recommended a unique Model Law for Plant Variety Protection. See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised! | http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/ghanas-plant-breeders-bill-lacks-legitim…

The public has a right to know why our Parliament is insisting on the UPOV-91 model for Ghana!

2. As a member of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGRFA) we expect Ghana to take steps to realise farmers’ rights to use, sell, save and exchange farm-saved seeds, to protect their traditional knowledge and to allow their participation in national decision-making.

It is thus extremely disappointing to see that the Bill is heavily tilted in favour of commercial breeders and undermines farmers’ rights. The Bill does not allow farmers to sell and exchange seeds. A farmer’s use of farm-saved seeds on his own holdings is limited to “personal use” and regulation by the Minister and may be subject to payment of royalties.

3. The Bill also contains a “presumption” whereby a plant breeder is considered to be entitled to intellectual property protection in the absence of proof to the contrary. Usually the onus is on the applicant to prove that he or she has complied with the necessary requirements and is thus entitled to protection. But in this case there is a presumption in favour of the plant breeder. This “presumption” provision and the lack of an explicit provision that calls for the disclosure of origin of the genetic material used in the development of the variety including information of any contribution made by any Ghanaian farmer or community in the development of the variety creates opportunities for breeders to misappropriate Ghana’s genetic resources using the PVP system and to exploit smallholder farmers. Ghana’s farmers must not be criminalized by Ghana’s laws for practising traditional farming.

It is important to note that Ghana is a member of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Convention on Biological Diversity and both these instruments champion fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Including a disclosure of origin provision in the Bill is critical as it is widely recognized as an important tool to safeguard against biopiracy. Several countries have included such a provision in their PVP legislation and there is no reason why Ghana should not do the same.

4. The Bill also lacks provisions that will ensure that intellectual property protection will not be granted to varieties that adversely affect public interests.

5. Amend or repeal Clause 23! The offending clause reads: “23. Measures regulating commerce. A plant breeder’s right shall be independent of any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”

FSG’s position on this is that it is important for the Bill to be coherent with Ghana’s sovereignty plus other legislation and national interests such as the protection of the environment, health, prevention of misappropriation of genetic resources etc. https://www.modernghana.com/news/507270/food-sovereignty-ghana-meets-par

The inclusion of Clause 23 hinders the ability to achieve such coherence as it views the grant of PBR as being independent from all other regulations. In certain cases it may be important to refuse to grant PBR over a variety, particularly where national interests are at stake. Such situations include not granting PBR on varieties that are injurious to public health, environment etc., or where the application does not disclose the origin of the genetic material.

There is a huge difference between “plant breeder right shall be INDEPENDENT OF any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing…” and “plant breeder right shall be SUBJECT TO any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material”! The language must be amended to: plant breeder right shall be SUBJECT TO any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.

6. Any PVP law in Ghana must protect Ghana from biopiracy. We recommend language such that: any entity or individual who provides germplasm resources to any foreign entity, organisation or individual in cooperation to conduct research, shall make an application and submit a national benefit-sharing plan”.

It is amazing that, apart from our “Honourable Member” the rest of the world can see that none of these six points enumerated above even makes mention of GMOs! Is this probably because Parliament has no reasonable response to these questions? In that case, what is preventing them from heeding to these calls? Above all, we call for a full transparency regarding the consultations with various organisations and entities consulted so far by Parliament, the specific objections raised and the response of the committee to these objections. Is that too much to ask over a controversial issue where some observers including MPs even suspect money must have changed hands? See: MPs take bribes Bagbin confirms in Koforidua What Bagbin said (text and audio) – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUb2N7Nb7eo

FSG is totally in support of the recent call by the Ghana Integrity Initiative to have an independent probe into the bribery allegations in Parilament and we shall be repeating our call for investigations, this time, at a press conference to be organized soon.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

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

Cc
Rt. Hon Speaker, Parliament of Ghana
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu,
Clerk To Parliament
Media Houses

Help spread the word! Please, share this on Facebook:

C2GLDLTW8AAa5Rh.jpg:large

February 2, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Memorandum Calling for the Rejection of Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture

Memorandum To Parliament of Ghana

From:

Food Sovereignty Ghana

To:

Rt. Hon Speaker, Parliament of Ghana

First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu,

Chairman of Appointments Committee of Parliament

1. We at Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) a grass-roots movement of Ghanaians, home and abroad, dedicated to the promotion of food sovereignty in Ghana, crave the indulgence of of honourable members of the Appointments Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, to register our strongest opposition to the nomination of Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture.

2. Hon. Dr. Afriyie Akoto has already demonstrated profound ignorance on the subject of GMOs and a shocking indifference to the lives and wellbeing of Ghanaians. A clear example is the interview granted by Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, on TV: New Day – Discuss the Fight Against Genetically Modified Foods – 31/1/2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gZgr7FAli8. Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, Minister-Designate for Food And Agriculture, was on TV claiming:

“…Ghana imports 150 thousand metric tons of poultry products every year and most of that are coming from America, Brazil and Europe. Where do you think those chickens are fed from? They are fed from genetically modified grains. So, we are eating genetically modified food. Has anybody died? Genetically modified food is eaten in America and Ghana and everywhere through feeding grains to chickens and [other poultry produce] and we [Ghanaians] are eating it [as well]. Are we all dead? All the Americans would be dead by now…”

3. Of course he neglects to mention that Americans are trying to pull away from GMOs. Evidence begins to emerge that a multitude of health problems, including cancer clusters in the US, may be linked to GMOs and their toxic chemicals.

4. The basic premise which informs FSG’s principled position which it has maintained since its inception in 2013 is the fact that there is still no consensus amongst the scientific community on the safety GMOs. Does Dr. Afriyie Akoto think the only danger to our health is posed from something that kills you immediately when you touch or taste it? Evidence of the serious dangers of GMOs have been emerging with increasing frequency and urgency. Dr. Afriyie Akoto appears to have missed them completely.

5. Dr. Afriyie Akoto is ignoring the fact that most of the world is recoiling from GMOs, including the country of their origin, the United States. The long term damage to human health, the death of the soil, the reduced productivity, the contamination of water and air, the evolution of super pests and the powerful chemical cocktails that are part of all commercial GMOs have caused people to turn away from GMOs.

6. Countries using GMOs have also seen the extinction of many varieties of seed and the dwindling diversity of available seeds just when we need added diversity and flexibility to protect us from climate change. What message is the President trying to send to Ghanaians by this nomination?

Keep in mind the reason GMOs were developed was not to assist farmers or to strengthen agriculture, but to create seed monopolies. They are designed ultimately to claim ownership of all the seeds used in Ghana and extract the wealth of Ghana’s agriculture for wealthy foreign corporate profits. Currently for every $1 the west brings to Africa, $24 leaves Africa for the West. Does Ghana want to continue these subsidies for the EU and the United States?

7. The scientists who refer to GMOs as safe are almost entirely those subsidized or co-opted by the corporate chemical seed giants who finance whole university departments and scientific publications. GMO corporate shills staff the upper levels of the US Department of Agriculture as well as the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). Where there is true and independent research into GMOs it is raising more and more alarms.

News just coming in today indicates that Burkina Faso cotton production has increased after it discontinued Monsanto’s Bt cotton variety http://www.stltoday.com/…/article_7902cb48-3b14-5936-9840-7… At a time where GMOs have woefully failed in neighbouring Burkina Faso, it would be unconscionable for Ghana to have a GMO minister responsible for our agriculture!

8. Dr. Afriyie Akoto seems to have fallen hard for the corporate lobby representing GMOs. They nod and smile and say they represent “Science”. They represent their version of ‘science’ as if it werefixed and immutable doctrine, the opposite of science. They spread lies and money liberally. Who can tell if they are working very hard to recruit all Ghana’s political parties, our academics, and the media to fall for their long con? Dr. Afriyie Akoto appears a willing and eager victim. That makes him wildly unsuited to be Ghana’s Minister of Agriculture.

9. A wide coalition of stakeholders has already expressed concern about the introduction of GMO into our food system. These include the Christian Council of Ghana, The Catholic Bishops Conference, The Ghana Muslim Mission, The Office of The Chief Imam, The Peasant Farmers Association, the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress, The Convention People’s Party and the Rastafari Council and Food Span among others. Surely this constitutes a significant collection of key stakeholders in this nation who will disagree with Ghana continuing down the path we seem to be heading regarding adopting GMOs in our agriculture. It is hoped that President Akufo-Addo will give a listening ear to the concerns of the Ghanaians who voted overwhelmingly for change.

Ghana deserves better. Thank you for your kind attention.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Evans Tawiah
Secretary, FSG

Accra, Thursday, 19th January, 2017.

Cc

Clerk To Parliament

Media Houses

Food Sovereignty Ghana

P. O. Box NT 272, Accra New Town, Accra

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

Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture.

January 29, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Parliament Did A Shoddy Job Vetting “GMO Minister”!

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) wishes to thank the Parliamentary Appointments Committee for raising our objections to the nomination of Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture. However, we cannot hide our complete disappointment in the manner the question was framed which was a complete neglect of the actual basis of our specific objections to the nomination. It appears that the entire import of our objection was either lost on the Appointments Committee, or deliberately ignored.

Our Position On GMOs

We therefore wish to restate our case clinically and in plain language, and leave it for the Ghanaian public to judge for themselves. In a nutshell, our case is that there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs in the scientific community. This position is actually the title of a peer-reviewed article No scientific consensus on GMO safety“, published in a reputable scientific journal, Environmental Science Europe, so it cannot get more scientific than that.

The joint statement written and signed by over 300 independent researchers, does not assert that GMOs are safe or unsafe. Rather, the statement concludes that the scarcity and contradictory nature of scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or lack of safety of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature. See: No scientific consensus on GMO safety” statement published in peer-reviewed journalhttp://www.ensser.org/media/0115/

All we are calling for are proper and transparent precautionary measures until the GMO science is clear. What part of this is so difficult for Dr. Akoto to understand, especially as he himself admits (and we agree with him), “we don’t even need it”? As Dr. Mercola puts it, “While no one knows exactly what the effects of consuming pesticide-soaked genetically-engineered (GE) crops will be over time, all of humankind serve as “lab rats” as a few massive corporations profit handsomely from their experiment.”

FSG, and we believe, almost all Ghanaians are very clear that we have no intention to be treated like lab rats and will not brook any insults from our own elected representatives about it either.

“Are We All Dead?”

The basis of our objection to Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s nomination was captured on TV, where he attacked those citizens who, concerned about the infiltration of GM foods into our food chain, sometimes without labels, are therefore calling for strict precautionary measures in view of the lack of scientific consensus on its safety for humans, animals, birds, insects, and the natural environment. Dr Akoto did not only exhibit a very closed mind to a serious public concern, but arrogantly demanded our death before complaining! We believe this is completely unacceptable behaviour, absolutely unbecoming of a public official, as it portrays his contempt for both the public and for the office.

We find the attitude adopted by the former Minority party’s Parliamentary spokesperson for Agriculture, to be far below the minimum standards required for any person to serve in public office. He did not only resort to name-calling such as “hypocrites”, but even worse, presented a strange and rather irresponsible pathology for determining the safety of GMOs, live on TV.

According to Dr. Akoto, until we are all dead from eating GMOs there is nothing to worry about! He actually stated this buffoonery and in a very cantankerous manner publicly on TV! Fortunately the whole episode is still available on YouTube: New Day – Discuss the Fight Against Genetically Modified Foods – 31/1/2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gZgr7FAli8. Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, Minister-Designate for Food And Agriculture, was on TV claiming:

“…Ghana imports 150 thousand metric tons of poultry products every year and most of that are coming from America, Brazil and Europe. Where do you think those chickens are fed from? They are fed from genetically modified grains. So, we are eating genetically modified food. Has anybody died? Genetically modified food is eaten in America and Ghana and everywhere through feeding grains to chickens and [other poultry produce] and we [Ghanaians] are eating it [as well]. Are we all dead? All the Americans would be dead by now…”

There are better and more scientific ways of detecting the safety of GM foods than to wait until we are all dead! It is this particular judgement call that makes him unfit to be in charge of anything near our food! We believe that no self-respecting country can allow such an individual to be in charge of vital decisions where food is concerned.

Vetting Question:

For us at FSG, a question that could have done justice to our petition would go this way:

Honourable Member, I have a question here, or should I say, an opinion, offered by Food Sovereignty Ghana. They are suggesting that you appeared on TV to say that because we are all not dead, those complaining about GMOs are hypocrites. They want to know whether you find your own statement sensible? And if not, what would you say to assure them that if you are made a Minister in charge of Agriculture you would exercise a better judgement call than waiting until we are all dead before you take any action?”

Instead of asking something similar as above, what we got from the Chairman of the Appointments Committee was:

Chairman:“Honourable Member, I have a question here, or should I say, an opinion, offered by the Food Sovereignty Ghana. They are suggesting that you support errrm… GMA, and for that purpose, [Voices: GMO] sorry, “GMO”, genetically modified foods, for which reason Parliament should not approve of you as Minister for Agriculture. That is their view, would you like to say anything to that?”

Obviously, whatever answer Dr. Afriyie Akoto gave to this question is completely irrelevant, as our question in our Memorandum was not put to him in the first place! Our Memorandum to the Chairman clearly stated our objection to Dr. Afriyie’s appointment, citing his irresponsible remarks as quoted above.

The Plant Breeders’ Bill

We seek to concentrate on the substance of our objections and not play the game of mixing this with the Plant Breeders’ Bill. Hence our comments on the Plant Breeders’ Bill shall appear in a separate statement. Suffice it to say that at this point we consider the introduction of the Plant Breeders’ Bill into the whole affair of our objection to his appointment, as very ominous indeed. In the first place, we are horrified that not only was our question not asked, but also, they used the opportunity to digress from the real issue and deviate to the Plant Breeders’ Bill. As the latter was not even mentioned once in our Memorandum to the Appointments Committee, we can surmise that what we saw on display was an obviously calculated piece of mischief designed to carry forth their own agenda of doggedly imposing the UPOV-Compliant version of the Plant Breeders’ Bill on Ghanaians!

Conclusion:

Obviously, we are not satisfied at all. On the contrary, we were horrified to watch the chairman of the Appointments Committee also making similar trivial remarks of his own instead of addressing the issues we presented him with. Our question was not necessarily on GMOs but rather pointed out Dr Akoto’s apparent lack of a sense of responsibility in making inane statements with grave implications for our health, wealth and sovereignty, some of which we have quoted above.

In a clear departure from the sort of composition a gentleman of his stature should assume he further displayed exactly the sort of behaviour we have cited earlier as insensitive to Ghanaians when he said on the floor of the Appointments Committee that “Mr Chairman I think your comment is very apt because you know something? GMO has been adopted and is actually the force behind American agriculture now”. “America produces GMO and the Americans are not dying of some funny cancers and so on so I don’t even know where this whole impression is coming from”. Strangely enough, he added, “That does not mean we should adopt GMO”. So, why should we ALL DIE first before he listens to us, especially as he himself now says we don’t even need it?

We therefore call for a thorough review of the appointment of Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

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

“Like” us on Facebook:

Give us a follow on Twitter:

Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, Minister-Designate for Food And Agriculture

January 18, 2017
by admin
Comments Off

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto: A Sinister Choice for GMO Minister!

By Food Sovereignty Ghana

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) stands strongly opposed to the nomination of Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture. It has come to our attention that among the list of the ministerial nominees Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has been slated for the Ministry of Agriculture. Consequently, we humbly call on His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to drop his name for the slot; and on Parliament to reject same.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto has already demonstrated profound ignorance on the subject of GMOs and a shocking indifference to the lives and wellbeing of Ghanaians. A clear example is the interview granted by Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, on TV: New Day – Discuss the Fight Against Genetically Modified Foods – 31/1/2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gZgr7FAli8. Dr. Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, Minister-Designate for Food And Agriculture, was on TV claiming:

“…Ghana imports 150 thousand metric tons of poultry products every year and most of that are coming from America, Brazil and Europe. Where do you think those chickens are fed from? They are fed from genetically modified grains. So, we are eating genetically modified food. Has anybody died? Genetically modified food is eaten in America and Ghana and everywhere through feeding grains to chickens and [other poultry produce] and we [Ghanaians] are eating it [as well]. Are we all dead? All the Americans would be dead by now…”

Of course he neglects to mention that Americans are trying to pull away from GMOs. Evidence begins to emerge that a multitude of health problems, including cancer clusters in the US, may be linked to GMOs and their toxic chemicals.

The basic premise which informs FSG’s principled position which it has maintained since its inception in 2013 is the fact that there is still no consensus amongst the scientific community on the safety GMO’s. Does Dr. Afriyie Akoto think the only danger to our health is posed from something that kills you immediately when you touch or taste it? Evidence of the serious dangers of GMOs have been emerging with increasing frequency and urgency. Dr. Afriyie Akoto appears to have missed them completely.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto is ignoring the fact that most of the world is recoiling from GMOs, including the country of their origin, the United States. The long term damage to human health, the death of the soil, the reduced productivity, the contamination of water and air, the evolution of super pests and the powerful chemical cocktails that are part of all commercial GMOs have caused people to turn away from GMOs.

Countries using GMOs have also seen the extinction of many varieties of seed and the dwindling diversity of available seeds just when we need added diversity and flexibility to protect us from climate change. What message is the President trying to send to Ghanaians by this nomination?

Keep in mind the reason GMOs were developed was not to assist farmers or to strengthen agriculture, but to create seed monopolies. They are designed ultimately to claim ownership of all the seeds used in Ghana and extract the wealth of Ghana’s agriculture for wealthy foreign corporate profits. Currently for every $1 the west brings to Africa, $24 leaves Africa for the West. Does Ghana want to continue these subsidies for the EU and the United States?

The scientists who refer to GMOs as safe are almost entirely those subsidized or co-opted by the corporate chemical seed giants who finance whole university departments and scientific publications. GMO corporate shills staff the upper levels of the US Department of Agriculture as well as the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). Where there is true and independent research into GMOs it is raising more and more alarms.

News just coming in today indicates that Burkina Faso cotton production has increased after it discontinued Monsanto’s Bt cotton variety http://www.stltoday.com/…/article_7902cb48-3b14-5936-9840-7… At a time where GMOs have woefully failed in neighbouring Burkina Faso, it would be unconscionable for Ghana to have a GMO minister responsible for our agriculture!

Dr. Afriyie Akoto seems to have fallen hard for the corporate lobby representing GMOs. They nod and smile and say they represent “Science”. They represent their version of ‘science’ as if it werefixed and immutable doctrine, the opposite of science. They spread lies and money liberally. There are signs that they are working very hard to recruit all Ghana’s political parties, our academics, and the media to fall for their long con. Dr. Afriyie Akoto appears a willing and eager victim. That makes him wildly unsuited to be Ghana’s Minister of Agriculture.

A wide coalition of stakeholders has already expressed concern about the introduction of GMO into our food system. These include the Christian Council of Ghana, The Catholic Bishops Conference, The Ghana Muslim Mission, The Office of The Chief Imam, The Peasant Farmers Association, the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress, The Convention People’s Party and the Rastafari Council and Food Span among others. Surely this constitutes a significant collection of key stakeholders in this nation who will disagree with Ghana continuing down the path we seem to be heading regarding adopting GMOs in our agriculture. It is hoped that President Akufo-Addo will give a listening ear to the concerns of the Ghanaians who voted overwhelmingly for change.

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG

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

3083244966342_7277306035937

December 13, 2016
by admin
Comments Off

FSG Congratulates President-Elect Nana Akufo-Addo

3083244966342_7277306035937

Food Sovereignty Ghana congratulates Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as President-Elect in the just-ended Presidential election of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. We also congratulate His Excellency, President John Mahama for gracefully conceding defeat and once more, ensuring that Ghana’s transition in a change of government has been as peaceful as it ought to be, despite a bitter and acrimonious campaign. We thank and congratulate all Ghanaians, especially all those who took the extra needed steps to see that the right things are done, the Electoral Commission, the security agencies, the media, the faith-based and civil society organisations.

As we congratulate Nana for his well-deserved victory in the just ended elections, we take this opportunity to cry out and call on him, as a matter of high priority, to consider the systematic application of agroecology and sustainable agriculture as a crucial national challenge. We urgently need to tackle this in the face of climate change and our survival needs. We need to tackle this for the sake of ensuring the sanctity of human health, environment, for our own sake and for the sake of future generations. We need to tackle this in order to reverse the dwindling incomes of small household farmers, the backbones of Ghana’s agriculture, who are almost half of the entire population of Ghana.

To this end, we call on you to uphold their rights as enshrined in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), of which Ghana is a signatory. In particular, the farmers’ right to use, sell, save and exchange farm-saved seeds, is currently under a serious threat by the Plant Breeders’ Bill, 2103, as well as the Arusha Plant Protection Protocol, which also awaits ratification by Parliament. The Arusha PVP is so bad that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food recently raised concern in an open letter addressed to the Member States of the African Regional Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, dated 24 November 2016.

It is about time Ghana sought Ghanaian solutions to Ghanaian problems rather than allowing foreign giant agricultural and chemical corporations to impose their solutions to their advantage for profit maximisation, and at the expense of poor Ghanaian farmers. A crucial issue we call on Nana and the Ghanaian public to keep a keen eye on is the fact of the illegitimacy of the bill itself. This was beautifully highlighted in the petition presented by more than 50 international CSOs and NGOs. A reading of that particular petition shows clearly that the accompanying Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill sent to Parliament by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, was at best, based on false premises, or at worst, designed to mislead the House in favour of the Bill. It raises more questions than answers. See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!

In the said Memorandum accompanying the Bill, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, dated 28th May, 2013 states:

“The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which resulted from the negotiations of the Uruguay Round requires contracting parties to protect varieties either by patent or by an effective sui generis system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems which is the plant breeders rights system.”

Here is the catch, notice that without any explanation or justification for such a strange decision to take Ghana to UPOV, she goes further to indicate:

“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.” See: Memorandum to the Plant Breeders’ Bill 2013 Publications | Parliament of Ghana.

The fundamental question that needs to be answered in the interest of accountability and national security, is, if according to WTO rules, Ghana has the right to develop its own unique system of plant breeders rights protection that is suitable to our developmental needs, what informed or “provoked” such a decision clearly in obvious opposition to our national interests, to opt to “apply the requirement for compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961″, in the first place? Why not opt for the African Union model, which includes language that compels any entity or individual who provides germplasm resources to any foreign entity, organisation or individual in cooperation to conduct research, shall make an application and submit a national benefit-sharing plan?

Considering the numerous objections from experts all over the world, that UPOV benefits the big multinational seed corporations, and that a developing country like Ghana stands to lose by its adoption; the ubiquitous problem of corruption and the track records of the corporate lobby behind the UPOV bill, we strongly smell a rat. We do not only demand its withdrawal from Parliament, and a replacement with a “sui generis” plant variety protection system, but also, investigations into why we came so close as a people to be sold out to foreign seed companies, and draw the appropriate lessons. For the same reasons, we further call for the total rejection of the Arusha New Plants Protection Protocol, currently pending Parliamentary ratification, as just another way of smuggling into our laws, the same UPOV convention without public scrutiny.

It is against this background that those of us who saw just how close Ghana came to a new form of colonialism led by rich multinational corporations through the control of our seeds are happy to welcome change! We heave a huge sigh of relief, as we contemplate our prospects with the new administration. The Plant Breeders’ Bill was postponed recently. Majority Leader, Hon. Alban Bagbin assured Parliament that “it will be brought to the house next year”. It is our hope that it will be completely withdrawn and replaced with a “sui generis” plant breeders’ and farmers’ rights protection bill. Ghanaians voted for change. Change has come. It is time to change the obnoxious UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill.

Our congratulatory message would be incomplete, if we do not end with an appeal to your incoming administration to place an indefinite moratorium on the cultivation and sale of genetically modified foods in Ghana until the science of GM foods and human health, as well as environmental impact, has been thoroughly studied and cleared as safe by independent science rather than corporate-driven, profit-oriented scientists and regulators, ridden to the core with conflicts-of-interest. We are happy for change also because President Mahama failed to heed to our numerous calls.

Naturally, we are more than eager to thank Nana for listening to us. It is our fervent hope that we may not in the future find ourselves tweeting again, “We told you so”!

We are most pleased to hear Nana declare he would not let Ghanaians down. At a time like this, it is a big pleasure to congratulate Nana Addo, not only for winning the elections, but also for the hope and happiness this victory has generated all over the country. We equally congratulate President Mahama for the grace and peace he has bestowed on all Ghanaians for his dignified and organized exit from power.

Congratulations, Nana Akufo-Addo, President-Elect of the Republic of Ghana!

God bless our homeland Ghana!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour

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