Ghana’s National Biosafety Authority holds sensitization forum on modern biotechnology

GHANA – The National Biosafety Authority (NBA), Ghana, has held a one-day sensitization forum on modern biotechnology for 20 district agricultural officers at Abokobi, in the Ga East Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.

The forum was meant to enhance the knowledge of participants on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and its regulation in Ghana.

Participants were drawn from Ministry of Agriculture divisions, crops directorate, extension directorate, veterinary services directorate, women in agriculture.

Speaking at the programme, Mr. Eric Amaning Okoree, the Chief Executive Officer of the NBA, said the campaign was to inform the officers of the new developments in that field and the regulatory measures the government was putting in place to safeguard its impact on the environment and human health.

He said it was important for agricultural officers to understand the regulatory procedures, and measures spelt out by the law as well as its implementation.

“GMO does not come into public domain without rigorous regulations. Any GMO which receives the seal of the regulatory body involved in the regulatory chain does not cause any harm,” Mr. Okoree stressed.

He further explained that GMOs have been regulated in the country since 1996 and had not caused any disease anywhere in the world.

The CEO said GMOs that pass through biosafety agency had also received the permit from the regulatory agencies and were good for consumption.

In bid to approve the country’s first GM crop, NBA is currently seeking comments from the public to guide its decision-making process.

Follows almost 10 years of research, scientists at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) submitted a request to the NBA for the environmental release of the pod borer resistant cowpea (PBR).

PBR cowpea exhibits very high levels of resistance to the legume pod borer, which is responsible for yield losses up to 80 percent.

Ghanaian farmers and consumers will benefit from PBR cowpea as a result of higher yields, lower costs of inputs, greater on-farm safety because of reduced pesticide usage and decreased pesticide residue on the beans.

Seed producers and scientists in Ghana have continuously expressed frustration over the government’s delayed approval of the PBR cowpea, due to rising prices of seeds caused by pest infestation.

The CSIR first submitted their environmental release request in January 2020. However, they were asked to re-apply at a later date once a new governing board was elected. The 13-member board was sworn in in December last year and has since set out to continue the PBR cowpea approval process.

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