Private sector urged to support research institutions

A retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, has made a passionate appeal to the private sector to support the country’s research institutions with resources to enable them to give off their best.

 

Speaking at a day’s sensitisation workshop on Ghana’s Biosafety Regulations for Members of Parliament in Accra, Justice Crabbe said “a time has come for the private sector and other rich people to support our research scientists instead of looking up to government.”

 

The programme organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Ghana-Chapter, brought to the fore the importance of biotechnology and its relevance to farmers with regard to the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

 

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or biological systems to make or modify products to the benefit of man in the areas of agriculture, industry, (food processing and pharmaceuticals), medicine and environment.

 

The MPs from the select-Committee on Agriculture, Cocoa, and Environment were taken through topics such as Agricultural Biotechnology Research and Commercialisation: what are we doing in Ghana? Biotechnology and the making of GMOs, Policies and socio-economic issues on Biotechnology: Concerns and Hopes for Ghana, Modern Biotech Regulations in Ghana, Global Status of Biotech and Trade in Biotech.

 

Justice Crabbe asked the MPs to ensure that research findings which had been submitted to the government and would inure to the benefit of Ghanaians should be made public and implemented rather than allowing them to gather dust in the shelves.

 

Dispelling rumours making the rounds to the effect that Genetically Modified (GM) foods were dangerous for human consumption, some Seasoned Research Scientists in their various presentations said “there is overwhelming evidence attesting to the fact that GM foods are safe for consumption as their non-GM counterpart.”

 

Professor Victor K. Agyeman, Director-General of Council for Scientific and Industrial  Research (CSIR) said that it was about time the nation embraced modern technologies to catch up with the advanced countries.

 

“The world is changing such that there should be a new approach to doing things.”

 

“Agriculture productivity will decrease drastically if we do not focus on research as a nation and as well promote Science and Technology,” he said.

 

Prof. Agyeman stressed the need for Science to be supported holistically so as to allay the fears of Ghanaians on issues relating to biotechnology especially GMOs.

 

Dr. Vivian Oduro of Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) said that Genetic Engineering went through a lot of checks or scrutiny and, therefore, no need to fear GMOs.

 

“Every technology will have some level of associated risk since nothing under the sun is risk free.  But there is no documentation to prove that GMOs are dangerous,” she said.

 

The Chairman of Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa, Mr. Kwame Adjei Asafu also said that the surest way of ensuring food security as well as making live comfortable for farmers, was to accept biotechnology.

 

“As long as Ghana’s population continues to grow with its attendant decrease in rainfall, then it would be better for us to look out for other alternative that would boost commercial agriculture,” he said.

 

The Chief Executive Officer of National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Mr. Eric Okoree stated that there were laws regulating GMOs in the Country.

 

Some of the MPs wondered why the research scientists on biotechnology had delayed in coming out to educate the public on GMOs and their benefits to farmers but have rather allowed people with little or no knowledge in Science to condemn the technology.

 

Other speakers were, Prof. Walter S. Alhassan, former Director-General CSIR now a consultant, and Dr. George Owusu Essegbey, Director, Science Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of CSIR.

 

By Castro Zangina-Tong       

 

 

 

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