Ghana’s MESTI minister rekindles GMO based debates among citizens

GHANA – The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie, has resuscitated the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highlighting that his Ministry will team up with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other key stakeholders, to ensure that such a debate is organized to enable Ghanaians make an informed decision on the subject.

GMOs are organisms whose genetic materials have been altered using genetic engineering techniques.

Dr Afriyie made these remarks during a visit to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) in Accra.

During the meetings with the staff of the two Authorities at their respective offices, the Minister interacted with the staff and answered questions from them with regards to their field of activities.

He noted that many people did not comprehend GMOs’ issues and that for some people had taken an ideological position that interfering with nature was an abomination.

According to a 2020 study report co-authored by the FDA, the majority (32 percent) of those surveyed said they had very little knowledge on GMO while 21.4 percent stated they knew nothing at all.

Another 21.4 percent said they had some amount of knowledge while 21 percent claimed they had fair amount of knowledge on the issue.

 The minister informed that Ghana was trading with other countries which were planting GMO crops to increase their agricultural outputs.

He said most of the food inputs from the advanced countries were GMOs, saying,

 “I am not advocating for GMOs introduction, we must have a debate but the debate should not be based on fears, which have no basis. It should be based on science and what is even good for this country; so, that we can make informed decision”.

He echoed that biosafety and biosecurity issues of GMOs should also be looked into in making such an informed decision.

The Minister expressed he was interested in building strong institutions, adding that according to experts in Brazil, Ghana’s Food and Drug Authority was one of the best Food and Drug Authorities (FDA) in Africa.

He said the NBA and the NRA were both in their formative years, and that they must build strong institutions with a culture, declaring that it was institutional cultures which made countries proud.

Dr Afriyie reiterated that the way to build a nation was to have strong institutions, which would outlive the present generation.

He noted that the list of members of the governing boards of all institutions under his Ministries would be released in two weeks’ time.

Currently, the NBA and the NRA are housed by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).

Dr. Afriyie urged scientists and academicians to consider entering into politics so that they could contribute in legislation and regulations formation.

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