Mr. Yaw Opoku (YO, MODERATOR) : My good friend has come, let me give it to him. I am sure he does not need introduction. Mr. Kwesi Pratt has been my friend, you always say what I need to say in addition, but I think I can say for one thing, he has become the conscience of the nation. Any time you hear him on the radio, he tries as much as possible to make a presentation of the situation that exists down there. So for me, I think he has taken the position of what he represents and what we do. Let me give it to him.
Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., (KP): Chairperson, Dr. Vandana Shiva, distinguished friends. We were expecting Dr. Shiva yesterday and we kept getting the news that she’s coming, no, she’s not coming. I’ve had more than 15 calls, some saying she’s coming, others saying she did not come or will not come. Finally she’s here and we are very happy to have her in our midst. At the very least, her presence will stimulate discussion, will enable us, once again, to start thinking about our today, and our tomorrow.
And I’m very, very happy to be here.
I have no doubt at all that a vast majority of the people did not come here to listen to me. They came to listen to Dr. Vandana Shiva. And I will not continue the way I usually continue. As you all do know, I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not an agronomist, I’m not a herbologist, I’m nothing. But when it comes to what we eat, and how we get what we eat, and how to make sure tomorrow we eat, there’s a lot common sense in it. And I think that the common sense things are far more important than, sometimes, the very research and the very high faluting statements that we get.
I intend to invite all of us to apply common sense this afternoon, just common sense. Now, by applying common sense this afternoon, we need to realize that we are where we are as a people, as Ghanaians, as Africans, as citizens of the world, because of some things that have happened in the past. One of the things that happened in the past that puts us where we are today is the fact of slavery. The fact that other citizens were made to work for other as beasts of burden for several years.
One of the reasons why we are here is the fact of classical colonialism. The fact that our resources were exploited for the benefit of others, and not our people. The fact that other cultures were imposed by us, that we were made to eat in ways that were alien to us is one of the reasons that we are here today. And this should become important sounding post in the discussion that we have today.
Now, we are an independent nation, or so we are told. Now this is an independent nation that is importing fish. This is an independent nation that is importing tomatoes. This is an independent nation that has to spend in excess of 600 million dollars every year to get rice to eat. This is an independent nation that is looking to other nations for its defence. What is the value of this independence when we are so dependent on others for our food, for our defence, and for everything? What is the value of this independence? This is the crucial question.
One of my friends used to put it very simply. That if you have your mouth in another person’s kitchen, you cannot say what you want to say. If your mouth is in another person’s kitchen and another person is feeding you! And for me, this is the path for our discussion today.
We’ve spoken about GMOs, we’ve spoken about Plant Breeders’ Bill and so on. Bottom line: how does that help us to control our ability to grow food, and to feed ourselves, and to eat what we want? Now, if you have a situation where every year your farmers have to look abroad to buy seeds, and the seeds they plant cannot produce fruits which can be replanted, you have become a dependent nation. Simple. Common sense. It’s not difficult. So if you are going to take control of our lives, we need to take control of our seeds….
We need to be able to produce our own seeds and to grow them. And we cannot allow the availability of seeds to be subject to the philosophy that says that the maximization of profit should determine everything. You cannot have that situation. So it is important for us to develop our own seeds and to grow our own seeds and so on.
I cannot talk about the science of the production of GMOs, perhaps in much the same way that Yaw Opoku, or Dr. Shiva, can talk about GMOs.
But I know that science has gone crazy many times in our history. Science has produced things that has turned into Frankensteins and so. So it is important for us to be cautious when we are introducing new things whose consequences we cannot determine. Just caution. It’s just worthwhile!
Think a little. Reflect a little. It is not a problem. I do not understand why there is this huge rush in to GMOs, as if our current methods of farming and so on is responsible for our poverty, and is responsible for our underdevelopment. What is responsible for our poverty and underdevelopment is not our current methods of farming and so on, but the capitalist system which ensures that people can only eat if somebody can make a profit.
If somebody is not going to make a profit then we should not eat. That is the problem! The world has enough resources to feed all of us ten times over. We are not being fed ten times over simply because of the controls of the resources of this earth by the 1% which have become so dictatorial and so greedy. That is the problem. So GMO is not an answer to the problems of capitalism. It can never, never, never become an answer to capitalism. What is the answer to the current state of inequality and underdevelopment, the real answer, is the people’s struggle to build a new society based on the foundations of …, and the commitment of people to build a society where nobody will go to bed on an empty stomach. That is the solution and not GMOs.
As I indicated earlier, I bow to Dr. Shiva, she is the one we all want to listen to, and I hand over the microphone.
You may also watch the entire video here: Video: Dr. Vandana Shiva In Accra #1. Public Forum | Food Sovereignty Ghana http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/video-dr-vandana-shiva-in-accra-1-public-forum/
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