House Of Chiefs Threaten Demo Over Plant Breeders’ Bill & GMOs

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As Journalists Call For Suspension of the Bill For 20years

By Alfred Dogbey

Some Regional House of Chiefs across the country are said to be threatening to stage a massive demonstration, should parliament insists and go ahead to pass the Plant Breeder’s Bill (PBB), which is currently before Parliament at consideration stage.

The chiefs, particularly from the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, have warned that, “if Parliament refuses this and goes ahead with its passage, Nananom will have no option, but to go on demonstration to press home their point”.

According to them, “the Plant Breeders Bill, should be suspended for the time being for a wider consultation with major stakeholder to be made, before a final decision is made to either go for it or not”.

The chiefs’ concerns were made known at a day’s workshop organized by the Graphic Communication Group Limited and Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), for some selected media practitioners in Accra on Wednesday to sensitize them on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Plant Breeder’s Bill before parliament.

The sensitization workshop, also saw journalists being put into two groups to allow them take part to analyze the concerns raised.

After exchange of ideas, the participants unanimously came out with a report that the bill should be put on hold for a period of 20years, to enable the media critically research and examined the GMO, so that the media inform and educate the public to either accept the GMO product or not.

Apart from the chiefs, Civil Society Organizations, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Food Sovereignty Ghana, Faith Based Organizations and other citizens of Ghana, have also raised serious concern in a report that was presented at the workshop by the Executive Director of CIKOD, Mr. Bernard Guri.

Among other things contained in the report available to The Herald is that, “the GMO/PBB, should either be suspended or abrogated till same advanced countries, such as Western European, Indian and Chinese counting have given a concrete stance on it in terms of research”.

They said, “Ghana should identify the advantages and disadvantages of the GMO and also insist on labeling all genetically modified foods for easy identification”, stressing that, “the PBB should be critically examined so that we can comfortably take a stance whether to go for it or not”

According to the chiefs and other stakeholders, “the issue of GMO should not be looked at in isolation but also take in to consideration the numerous chemicals that cause damage to lands”.

They indicated, “that the most important thing that will favour farmers is to promote local seed preservation or have in place a seed bank to promote traditional foods. That permitting GMO in Ghana will conflict with the Economic Partnership Agreement since Europe does not accept GMOs”.

KEY CONCERNS OF CITIZENS
They said, “the plant Breeders’ Bill as it stands does not factor in political, economic, socio-cultural and health implications of the bill to citizens”.

“There is a risk of loss or disappearance of local indigenous seed and the complete takeover of the seed industry by commercial plant breeders”.

“Prices of seed and related inputs will rise far above the means of peasants leading to collapse of family farming and consequently rural economies”.

“Traditional/indigenous food systems would be greatly narrowed down thereby reducing consumer choices and food related cultural ceremonies.

“Food related diseases will increase due to loss of good nutrition that is usually taken care of by bio-diverse local food crops on family farms which will be replaced by large scale commercial mono-crop systems.

“The danger of possible negative health effects of GMOs in the long term cannot be ruled out”.

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