The case in which Food Sovereignty Ghana is suing for an interim injunction on the commercial release of Bt cowpea and GM rice is set to be heard at the Human Rights Division of the Accra Fast Track Court on Monday, 4th May. The case attracted a huge national and international attention when at the second hearing, His Lordship Anthony Kwadwo Yeboah reminded the defendant that until the application by the plaintiff is heard, they cannot do anything in relation to the authorisation of Bt. cowpea or GM rice until the process is over, which amounted to a temporary ban on the commercial release of GM crops until the case had been disposed of.
It would be recalled that following a series of publications in November and December of 2014, at the instance of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) indicated to the public that SARI intended “to embark on the multiplication of seeds of the Bt cowpea in commercial quantities next year (ie 2015) for distribution to farmers for planting in the three northern regions”.
The case was first heard on February 17th, and was greeted with a hurriedly inaugurated National Biosafety Authority (NBA) on the same day. The plaintiffs, FSG had originally sued the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) but counsel for the defendants requested the National Biosafety Authority and the Attorney-General’s Department to be joined in the suit as co-defendants.
The FSG is claiming that the Biosafety Act, 2011, Act 831, and the Legislative Instrument 1887, which established the NBC, have not been respected as regards the authorization of confined field trials and the conditions for a commercial release of GM crops, as it relates to the threats by SARI “to embark on the multiplication of seeds of the Bt cowpea in commercial quantities”.
According to FSG lawyer Mr. George Tetteh Wayo, “We are making this petition because, unfortunately and quite alarmingly, we see serious breaches to be going on. Our main argument is that the Biosafety law in Ghana, as well as international biosafety protocols and treaties are being breached by the defendants”.
The court is likely to hear the argument from the defendants that the applicant’s motion for interlocutory injunction and the court will be looking at both affidavits and determine the relevant issues raised, whether or not to grant or dismiss the application.
So far as the FSG is concerned, the announcement by SARI for “the multiplication of seeds of the Bt cowpea in commercial quantities… for distribution to farmers for planting in the three northern regions” has nothing to do with confined field trials. Furthermore the inconsistency by the CSIR and the NBC as to the timeline regarding the release and commercialisation of GM rice causes great alarm. The wisest thing for the plaintiff to do is to seek an injunction until the substantive case is heard.
The hearing begins at 9.00am at the Human Rights Division of the High Court.
For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Contact: Tel: +233 503 895 751