Genetic engineering will facilitate food security in Ghana – Biochemist

Dr Yaa Difie Osei, a Biochemist and Molecular Biologist, has noted that the country is positioning itself to tap deep into the benefits of modern biotechnology and genetic engineering for guaranteed food security.

She said structures including institutional and legal framework, human capacity development, goodwill among practicing partners, acceptance by Ministries, Departments and Agencies and governmental assent to the Bio-Safety Act (Act 831) of 2011, are motivating.

Dr Difie-Osei made the observation at a day’s sensitisation workshop for farmers, farmer-based organisations and staff of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in the southern and middle-belt of the Volta Region, in Ho.

It was organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) under the auspices of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Planning Committee of OFAB.

Dr Difie-Osei announced that the Crop Research Institute and Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of CSIR have begun studies into nitrogen efficient rice and Bt cotton.

She said similar projects are being undertaken in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Africa.

Dr Difie-Osei said the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals including eradicating extreme hunger, poverty and disease, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health could be a mirage when biotechnology does not champion these dreams.

She said genetic engineering could be a potential high-risk area like all other technologies, but the ability to tap into its positive sides under strict security regimes to provide the needs of humanity surmounts all skepticisms.

Dr Margaret Ottah Atikpo, Chairperson of OFAB said genetic modified technology is the way-forward in the face of dwindling arable land sizes.

She said the benefits of the technology include improved stock, higher yields, reduced farm costs, drought-resistant seeds, higher profits and nutritional properties and almost negligible post-harvest losses and increased shelf-life.

Mr John Tsrakasu, Regional Director of MOFA urged experts to be open-minded about the intricacies of the technology and avoid being defensive.

He said: ‘Let us embrace technologies but challenge ourselves about the negative technicalities that will emerge.’

Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli State in a speech read on his behalf, said science and technology is the vehicle of development in the 21st Century and appealed to scientists to partner chiefs to coin matching words for scientific terminologies for easy understanding.

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