We are closely supervising the breeding of GM crops – Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), Mr. Eric Amaning Okoree says the outfit will be working closely with growers of genetically modified crops to ensure strict adherence to procedures and rules as it seeks to protect the integrity of conventional crops in the country.

According to him, the organisation is putting in all efforts to ensure there is greater cooperation and collaboration between the NBA and the various regulatory institutions in the biosafety space through intensifying exchanges in knowledge sharing on modern biotechnology.

“We have documented the conditions relating to the breeding of GM crops and we will apply them as part of the terms granting the permit. When permit is given conditions are also given because we want to maintain the integrity of conventional crops” he told journalist at a sensitization workshop for staff of the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) here in Accra.

He added: “As biosafety experts, we know the biology of the cowpea which is self-pollinating and also how far the maruka and other insects that feed on them will travel. So, we have recommended how far the next conventional farm will have to be so that there will not be any cross-fertilisation or pollution”.

The NBA is yet to endorse the commercialization of Ghana’s PBR Cowpea, the first genetically produced crop in the country after series of stakeholder engagements with huge interest from farmers and other agric value chain actors across the country.

But in line with laid down procedures, the authority says it has already placed an advertisement in the newspapers soliciting feedback from the general public towards the approval of the PBR cowpea.

“The rule is that for anyone that wants to release GMOs into the environment, we have to invite the public to give their comments as part of input into decision-making process. The intention is to get the public to contribute to the decision making on the introduction of GMOs onto the domestic market.

With an increase in human population and the improvement in technology, we need to ensure that food security is attained. This requires we innovate and improve using modern biotechnology,” he indicated.

The one-day workshop was organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) as part of stakeholder engagements to boost awareness about the safety, profitability and sustainability of GMOs to food nutrition security.

Participants were taken through the process of crop breeding using agro technology, the rules and legislations guiding the production of GMOs and the impact of agriculture biotechnology on Ghana’s food value chain.

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