Ghanaians urged to embrace biotechnology to solve food security problem

The use of biotechnology will significantly help to solve food security problem and reduce poverty in the country, Dr. Yaa Difie Osei, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of University of Ghana, Legon, said on Friday.

Urging Ghanaians to embrace biotechnology, she said, the application of Genetically Modified (GM) technology would not only increase crop yields, but also fight insects to enable farmers to save money for other uses.

“This approach will enable Ghana enhanced nutritional values and increase the life shelves of produce to sustain socio-economic development of the country”, she said.

Dr. Osei made the call at the first monthly session meeting of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) on “Biotechnology: Its Principle and Potential Uses in Ghana” in Accra.

The meeting was aimed at bringing together stakeholders in biotechnology and facilitates interactions between scientists, journalists, civil societies, law makers and policy makers.

The initiative served as a platform for stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences and explore new avenues for un-leashing biotechnology.

Biotechnology involves the use of genes, cells and tissues to manufacture substances including food.

According to statistics, 25 countries worldwide were using biotechnology with 14 million farmers cultivating 125 million hectares in 2008. In Africa, Burkina Faso is using the GM technology to increase her cotton production from 8,500 hectares in 2008 to 15,000 hectares in 2009, Egypt’s maize production has increased by 15 per cent and South Africa is also recording an increase of 17 per cent maize production within the same period.

Only South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso can commercialise their GM crops but only South Africa is currently commercialising Bt Maize, Bt cotton and Bt soyabean.

Dr Osei explained that biotechnology was like any technological application that used biological systems, living organisms to make or modify products.

She said biotechnology was a vital technology which if it’s properly harnessed could augur well for the development of this country’s agricultural, manufacturing and health sectors.

She said modern biotechnology complemented traditional technologies in effectively addressing food security problems while increasing farmers’ income.

According to her, some critical challenges facing farmers including weeds, pests and diseases, spoilage due to over-ripening, inadequate irrigation and lack of mechanization could be addressed through effective application of biotechnology.

Dr. Osei commended government for the passage of Biosafety Bill to allow farmers to use the GM technology to enhance production, which would ensure food security and contribute immensely towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

She said this would also alleviate fear that GM products were unsafe to reconsider their position.

OFAB Ghana Chapter which is the sixth to be established in Africa is a collaborative initiative between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation based in Kenya and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

OFAB seeks to promote and sustain a well informed and interactive society capable of making informed decisions regarding research, development, regulation and commercialisation of agricultural biotechnology products.

Source: GNA

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