Stop throwing dirt at GMOs – Former Deputy Agric Minister in Ghana

By Joseph Opoku-Gakpo – Accra, Ghana

May 07, 2017

A former Deputy Agriculture Minister is calling for an end to the bastardisation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology as a bad science for food production.

Dr. Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu says GMO technology (broadly referred to as biotechnology) is the latest scientific innovation that is driving food production across the world and Ghana should not sit on the fence as the technology advances.

“It is a science for the present and the future and Ghana cannot afford to miss the boat…We want Ghana to become a great country and the only way it can happen is through science and technology,” Dr. Yakubu stated.

“The peculiarities of Africa and therefore Ghana should let us have a re-think about the negative dirt that we throw at biotechnology as a science. It is extremely important we do so,” he added.

Dr. Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu, Former Deputy Agriculture Minister addressing participants during the West Africa Regional Media Training in Accra, Ghana from May 03-05, 2017.

Dr. Yakubu who is also former Member of Parliament for Mion was speaking to Joy News at a training for science reporters from across the West African sub-region on biotechnology organised by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in Accra.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is currently undertaking trials for GMO cowpea and rice as part of regulatory procedures before they are allowed onto the market, most likely in 2018.

But some civil society groups have raised red flags claiming the adoption of GMO crops will bring devastating health, environmental and economic consequences to the country.

But Project Manager in charge of the Open Forum on Agric Biotechnology at AATF Daniel Otunge says that is inaccurate. He insists there is no scientific evidence to back the claims that GMOs are unsafe.

“The European Union conducted 25 years of research on GMOs before commercialisation and another 10 years after they were commercialized and published a report which concluded that there is no effect of this technology on the environment, human beings and live stock.

“Based on that assurance, we say, why shouldn’t Africa also benefit from this beneficial technology,” he stated.

Assistant Director of the National Biotechnology Development Agency in Nigeria Dr. Rose Gidado who spoke at the training noted that increasing yield is the ultimate role of modern agricultural production and scientific innovation is the only way to achieve this, hence the need to adopt biotechnology.

Dr. Emmanuel Chambas who works with the Savannah Agric Research Institute of the CSIR in Tamale noted that with the adoption of GMO technology, it will be possible for farmers to increase yield whilst using even fewer resources.

“Resource poor farmers can still have good yields without fertilizer,” he said.

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