Parliament Explains Breeders Bill

Alban Bagbin

Alban Bagbin

The controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders Bill, which is currently before Parliament, compelled the government, through Parliament, to hold a press conference on Tuesday to allay the fears of members of public who think that the passage of the bill will endanger the health of Ghanaians.

Addressing the press, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Nadowli/Kaleo, , who is also the chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, said the Plant Breeders Bill is not about the much-talked about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), adding that the bill will protect the intellectual rights of breeders and also ensure food security in the country.

‘It is unfortunate that civil society is getting this whole plant breeders bill wrong. It is not meant to hurt us but rather protect the interests of both farmers and breeders who come out of with improved crop varieties for higher yields.’

He said the government will not do anything to endanger the health of Ghanaians because it will be very stupid for the government to put its citizens, which it is there to protect, into such danger.

He said issues concerning GMOs had already been catered for under the Biosafety Act passed in 2011.

‘Parliament is still open to suggestions concerning this particular bill, which is at the consideration stage,’ he said, adding that Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and some members of civil society who still have concerns about the bill could  bring their inputs through memoranda to Parliament for considerations.

At the press conference were officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, some members of the leadership of Parliament and researchers and scientists from the Crop Research Institute.

The Director of the Crop Research Institute, Rev Dr Hans Adu-Dapaah, said people should disabuse their minds of the notion that plant breeding could pose danger to their health and the environment, saying researchers and scientists at his institute have been engaging in plant breeding for a very long time, which has resulted in the production of improved varieties of crops for farmers to plant taking into consideration the changing patterns of the climatic conditions in the country.

He said plant breeding, which takes place mostly on the field, could take 10-15 years for a product to be developed but in the case of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) resulting from biotechnology, it could take less than five years for the product to be developed basically in a laboratory.

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