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Find pragmatic solutions to constraints facing farmers - 4 anti-GMO groups urge govt

PFour anti- Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) groups have reaffirmed their stance with a call on the government to find pragmatic solutions to constraints facing Ghanaian farmers to enable them produce all year round.

They appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ensure that the country “does not become an economic football for selfish foreign seed companies whose only interest is profit.”

Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) and the Food Sovereignty Ghana made these known at a press conference jointly organised in Accra yesterday.

The conference was occasioned by a recent public pronouncement by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto that “Ghana does not need GMO to ensure food sufficiency and security, as the knowledge it has accumulated in the discovery of improved seeds can boost food production.”

The Minister’s comment, reportedly made on March 13, 2019, at a bi-annual meeting with senior officials of the World Food Programme (WFP) from West African countries in Accra, according to the Executive Director of PFAG, Ms Victoria Adongo  who addressed journalists, resonated the groups’  long held position.

She commended and urged him to hold on to the position as he had the support of Ghanaian farmers, consumers and civil society groups.

She said GMO could not be a solution to the challenges facing agriculture at production, postharvest and marketing levels, including limited irrigation facilities, poor transportation or road network, inadequate storage facilities and difficulty in access to credit.

 Rather, she said it would worsen the poverty level of smallholder farmers who would have to buy expensive seeds every year, stating that the country did not have the capacity to examine the full health, environmental and socio-economic implications of genetic engineering.

In addition, producing GMOs in Ghana, Ms Adongo argued, would have dire consequences on the Economic Partnership Agreement that the country had with the European Union as GMOs were banned from the European market.

She cited an instance in neighbouring Burkina Faso last year, where the country had to rely on Togo for conventional cotton seeds to save their cotton industry from total collapse due the failure of BT- Cotton, a GMO type.

Instead of the GMO, she called for support for local seed farmers who had developed good seed varieties, which are able to deal with the multiple challenges of farming.


BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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