CSIR-STEPRI urges Ghanaians to reject misconceptions on GMOs

By Iddi
Yire, GNA

Accra, Oct. 7, GNA – Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw,
a Senior Research Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research – Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR -STREPRI),
has discredited various misconceptions about Genetically Modified Organism
(GMO) foods.

He, therefore, urged Ghanaians to kick against
misconceptions about GMOs.

GMO is any organism whose genetic material has
been altered using genetic engineering techniques or biotechnology.

GMOs are used to produce many medications and
genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and the
production of other goods.

Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw said one unfortunate thing
was that scientists do not go ahead with the biotechnology but rather allowed
people who did not understand the concept of the technology to go out there
misinforming the masses and creating lots of misconceptions.

Mr Ampadu-Ameyaw said this in an interview
with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the “Ask About Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMOs) Engagement” with the National Biosafety
Authority (NBA) held in Accra.

The forum, which was organised by the Alliance
for Science Ghana, sought to create a platform for farmers, scientists,
journalists and students to have an encounter with officials of the NBA.

Among the objectives of the forum was to
create an avenue for the public to have an engagement with officials of the
National Biosafety Authority which is the government institution tasked with
regulating agricultural biotechnology and GMO foods.

Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw said: “At the mention of
GMOs, most people think is all about chemicals, but rather the GMO products
were coming to reduce agro-chemical spray”.

He said the GMO was not a one-side fit all as
such it was to be looked at case by case; and cited an example where the
Bacillus thuringiensis, (Bt) cowpea was likely to be different from the ‘Golden
Rice’ that had been released in Australia.

Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw, who noted that the (Bt)
cowpea was actually to control maruca disease; also called on the Government to
support science research in the country.

Mr Davies Korboe, the 2009 National Best
Farmer, said there has been several discussions on whether the GMO foods were
safe or not.

He said agriculture as the game changer
particularly in an era where the country had aspirations of a ‘Ghana Beyond
Aid’ agenda; adding that climate change, pests and diseases, and other factors
remain as threats to the agricultural sector.

Mr Korboe said he was of the belief that among
the solutions in the sector was the introduction of GMOs as there had been lots
of research findings which indicates that GMOs were safe and there is the need
to disseminate these findings and as well have a national dialogue on the
issue.

Ms Slyvia Tawiah Tetteh, a member of Alliance
for Science Ghana, said Ghana was working towards introducing Genetically
Modified Foods into the country’s food chain; as work was ongoing on Bt cowpea
and NEWEST rice for release onto the market sometime soon.

Alliance for Science Ghana is a network of
farmers, scientists, communications persons, students and other well-meaning
Ghanaians working to ensure improved food and environmental security in the
country.

The Alliance works with agric sector
stakeholders to enhance access to agricultural innovation as a means of
ensuring food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the
quality of life for farmers.

GNA

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