Plant Breeders Law will be beneficial to farmers

Fiifi Kwetey Minister of Agriculture (5)The Director of Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Professor Kenneth Danso, has said that the Plant Breeders Bill, if passed by Parliament, would be advantageous to Ghanaian farmers as it would protect the plants they cultivate.

He said research scientists were pushing for the passage of the bill not for their own (scientists) interest, but in the interest of farmers and seed growers.

Speaking at the launch of The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA) Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2014, at the Water Research Institute (WRI) in Accra last Wednesday, Prof. Danso expressed disapproval of people coming to Ghana to take “our plants back to their countries, extract the medicinal value and patent them thus denying us the right to use the plant they have taken from our motherland”.

The programme was used to educate stakeholders on the usefulness of biotechnology introduced in some developed and developing countries to ensure food sufficiency.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) and Open Forum on Agriculture Biotechnology (OFAB) – Ghana-Chapter, has for sometime now, been sensitising farmers, consumers, Scientists, Students, Legislators, Journalists and policy-makers to the benefits of Agricultural Biotechnology in Ghana.

The technology is a relatively recent scientific innovation which requires sustained communications to create awareness and understanding to stakeholders.

Ghana has approved trials of biotech crops such as Bt Cowpea, Bt Cotton and improved rice, and passed the Biosafety Law of 2011, Act 831.

Prof. Danso said the Plant Breeders Bill, currently before Parliament which had generated controversies, had nothing to do with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) emphasizing that GM crops posed no threat to human life since they passed through vigorous test before being released onto the commercial market.

The Director of Biotechnology and Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in West Africa (BSSA), Prof. Walter Sandow Alhassan, a resource person, said CSIR had since 1984 developed at least 28 maize varieties three of which were hybrids but not GM crops.

They are Mamaba produced in 1997, Dadaba In 1997 and CSIR-Adikanfo in 2013.

Other speakers included Dr. Abdulai B. Salifu, the immediate past Director-General of CSIR, and Mr. John Awuku Dziwornu of Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen (GNAFF), who was of the opinion that only biotechnology could address the problem of food insufficiency in Ghana in particular, and Africa, as a whole.

From Castro Zangina-Tong

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