Agricultural stakeholders in the Central Region have unanimously expressed their readiness to embrace Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and biotechnology tools in agricultural production.
The stakeholders, made up of agricultural extension officers, farmers and farmers’ groups and officials of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), said the new technology had the potential of increasing crop yield, reduce farm cost and post-harvest loses, which could undoubtedly enhance food production and food security in the country.
GMOs are created when genes are moved artificially from one species to another, which produces improved varieties.
Despite the fact that Government had instituted necessary legal framework and administrative procedures in the form of enacting the Biosafety Act and the establishment of the National Biosafety Commission, GMOs have received stiff opposition in Ghana with regards to its introduction and produce.
Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Africa are the only African countries to have embraced GMOs.
According to the farmers, “whether we like it or not, GMOs have come to stay. The world is changing and we have gotten to a place where we cannot do away with science and technology”.
“It is either we embrace this scientific method of farming to improve food production to address hunger and poverty or we remain ignorant and suffer the consequences,” they added.
This came to light during a day’s sensitisation workshop organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, to educate farmers about the remunerations of modern biotechnology and how it was connected to food security and poverty reduction.
It was aimed at developing strong communication and engender discussion on modern biotechnology among stakeholders in agriculture, to the remove the myths and create acceptance for the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
It was also to help promote understanding of biotechnology as a means of propelling economic growth, improve food security and address climate change.
Biotechnology is the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics and hormones among others.
The lack of understanding, ignorance and misinformation in the public domain about the use of the modern biotechnology in agriculture, had created negative perceptions about the scientific methods of multiplying diseases resistant crops.
The farmers were much convinced that GMO foods were already on the market because of international trade and believed that it will be a dis-service to the country if government did not accept it.
Addressing the farmers on the economic benefits of GMOs, Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, National Coordinator of OFAB Ghana, stressed that it was about time the government accepted GMOs to uplift the status of agriculture in the country.
He pointed out that biotechnology in agriculture was like any other technological application that used biological systems and living organisms to make or modify products, and that GMO food were not harmful as it was being propagated.
He said GMOs were certified by worldwide regulatory Agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organisations (FAO), United States Food and Drugs Authority (US-FDA) among others.
Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw further stated that GMOs had been used and was still being used in other countries without any reported health implication on humans.
Mr. Daniel Osei Ofosu, a Biotechnologist at the Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission mentioned that there were no known GMO foods on the Ghanaian market neither were they being planted.
He appealed to stakeholders including politicians, traditional rulers, farmers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media to embrace the biotechnology concept for an improved food security in the country.