UG to host public lecture on GMOs

Wednesday 12th March , 2014 6:19 pm

legonThe University of Ghana, Legon, is organizing a Public Lecture on the safety of genetically modified organisms in the context of the safety of conventional (non-GM) foods and review the record of food safety of GMOs.

The Lecture dubbed, ‘Passing Through Accra: Legon International Scholar Series (LISS)’ is a prestigious platform instituted by the University of Ghana, under the auspices of the office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs (ASA) for occasional seminars.

A Research Professor, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, Department of Food Science & Technology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA, Professor Richard E. Goodman, is expected to address the LISS seminar.

It is on the theme: ‘Assessment of Genetically Modified (GM) Food Safety – facts, myths and misconceptions.’

A statement signed by Emmanuel Ekow Arthur – Entsiwah of the Institute of African Studies, Legon indicated that due to the ongoing changes being experienced in the agricultural industry worldwide and the heated debate on the introduction of genetically modified organisms into crop production, it is imperative for citizens to be informed and educated on GMOs.

Ghana’s Parliament is yet to debate and take a decision on the country’s agenda on Genetically Modified Organisms.

But a number of groups are demanding the withdrawal of the Plant Breeders Bill from Parliament with some threatening to demonstrate against government if the bill is approved.

The Lecture will take place at J.H. Kwabena Nketia Conference Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

It will be chaired by Professor Esther Sakyi-Dawson, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Ghana, Legon.

Below is an abstract of Lecture

Food and agricultural production methods are changing as we struggle to provide nutritious foods for a growing population while insect and plant pests, soil erosion, salinity and draught increase, reducing productivity.

Additionally, the best farm-land is being swallowed by urban sprawl. Yet, while we strive to increase production, we cannot forget to ensure food safety.

We know the most important food safety issues are due to bacterial and fungal contamination, with thousands of people dying because of food spoilage and the spread of pathogenic organisms.

While the methods used to transfer new genes from one organism into another (genetic engineering) does not increase risks of contamination or spoilage, some loud voices raise concerns about the possible transfer of toxic proteins or metabolites, or allergenic proteins into the GMOs being developed by companies and academic scientists, suggesting the GMOs might cause cancers or allergies.

Some suggest that serious illness or death might occur due to consumption of GM crops.

The European Union has blocked imports of many GM crops that are approved and commonly consumed in the United States, Canada and Japan.

Some African countries and India have refused to allow many approved GM commodity crops to be introduced.

There are a few scary publications claiming that rats get cancer from eating approved GM maize.  Is the evidence for risk, evidence for harm? Or is this all rumor?  Are tests and evaluations required now that demonstrate the approved GM products are no more likely to cause harm than conventionally bred food crops?  If so, what tests are used and who performs them?  This seminar will discuss the safety of genetically modified organisms in the context of the safety of conventional (non-GM) foods and review the record of food safety of GMOs.

Emmanuel Ekow Arthur – Entsiwah
Institute of African Studies
University of Ghana

By: Efua Idan Osam/