It believes that the government will now be able to meet the nutritional needs of Ghanaians and American biotechnology companies will be able to sell their seeds and agriculture products in Ghana.
The US Under Secretary, Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Robert D. Hormats applauded President John Evans Atta Mills for signing the bill into law.
Answering a question posed by ghanabusinessnews.com during ‘A virtual media briefing’ via the telephone at the US Embassy in Accra Tuesday April 17, 2012, he said the law is a very important step in giving opportunities for biotechnology to make a contribution to increasing the quality in the diets of the citizens of Ghana.
The question was, “Now that Ghana has passed the GMO law would you say the flood gates are now open for US companies to export GMOs into Ghana?”
Mr. Hormats said he believes there are ways in which Ghana can take advantage of biotechnology to make “dramatic improvements in quality of seeds, and improve the resistance of seeds to diseases.”
According to him, the law is very well crafted, to determine what can be sold and the scientific testing of a wide range of seeds and products for approval.
“We think it’s a well crafted, very well measured bill. We believe that biotech seeds and agriculture products can help improve the diets of Ghanaians,” he said.
He said the technology will give Ghanaians more variety, better quality and higher nutrition.
“We also know that there is a process in the bill for the government to follow to make decisions based on scientific conclusions to determine what can be sold and what can’t be sold,” he said.
Comparing Ghana to some other countries, he did not mention, he said Ghana is way ahead in serving the interest of its citizens by passing this law.
He said that the Ghana government is responsible and will do the right thing to help its citizens.
“We believe that American companies that produce high quality biotech foods and seeds will be able to sell in Ghana to meet the needs of Ghanaians,” he added.
President Mills gave assent to the bill on December 31, 2011 after it has been in Parliament for four years, the GNA reported.
The Law, from the Biosafety Act, 831, 2011 will enable Ghana to allow the application of biotechnology in food crop production involving Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to enter food production.
It will also ensure an adequate level of production in the field of safe development transfer, handling and use of GMOs that are pharmaceuticals for human use, and which are the subject of any other enactment.
It will also establish a transparent and predictable process to review and make decisions on specified GMOs that were pharmaceutical for human use.
The 28-page Act has nine Arrangements of Sections, which include Scope, Objectives and Establishment, Administration, Handling of Requests for Approvals, Reviews and Approvals, Technical Advisory Committee, Regulatory Agencies, Inspections, Finance and Miscellaneous.
It also has five schedules which include -Conduct of Business and Affairs of the Board, Information Required in Applications for Contained or Confined Use, Information Required in Applications for Release, Importation and Placing on the Market, Risk Assessment and Regulatory Agencies.
Under the new Biosafety law, a National Biosafety Authority will have to be established with the functions clearly spelt out in the Act and the makeup of the governing body.
In April 2012, Ghana’s Parliament passed a Biosafety Bill. The Bill will establish a legal framework to provide the machinery for regulating biotechnology and biosafety including genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Meanwhile, GM corn or maize now makes about 81% of the trade in crops globally and 89% of the soybean supplied between 2009 and 2010 was from GM corn countries, despite concerns about their safety both to humans and the environment, Prof. Adelaida Harries of Iowa State University in the US has said providing figures in support.
And available data shows that international trade in GM seeds has grown to about $42 billion.
Data from the Iowa State University indicates that more than 70 countries in the world have harmonised their seed policies and regulations since 1992.
GMOs are food crops that have been injected with genomes or genes from other living organisms to make them resistant to pests, grow in some environments or produce high yields, through the scientific process known as biotechnology.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi