Dr. Ahmed Baba Salifu, Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has suggested the modification of the Senior High Schools (SHS) curriculum to include the teaching of modern sciences.
He said the Council was prepared to assist the Ghana Education Service to review the science text books used in the SHSs in Ghana to include the study of modern biotechnology.
Addressing journalists and scientists at a workshop on “Effective Reporting of Agricultural Biotechnology in Ghana for Science Journalists”, Dr Salifu noted that the current science text books did not cover modern scientific areas, which could lead to deficiencies on part of the students.
“The CSIR will revive the communication which began between the two institutions and ensure that this works out successfully. It is better we imbed the teaching of modern sciences in our students to enable them get abreast with modern trends of events”.
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in collaboration with the CSIR and the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) are organizing the four-day training for more than 30 journalists and scientists across the country.
The goal of the media training is aimed at addressing effective media reportage on biotechnology issues.
Dr Salifu noted that the CSIR was in the process of establishing a Horticulture Research Institute in the Brong Ahafo Region to bring the total number of institutes to 14.
He explained that the CSIR Council had approved of it and all the necessary structures were being put in place for its establishment, adding, “This will mean that all the 10 regions in Ghana will now be covered by our Institutes”.
He expressed the concern that people did not appreciate the values of biotechnology to give it the adequate attention and support to address the challenges of food security.
“Food security will be enhanced if we embrace the application of modern biotechnology because genetically modified crops are the only crops that are subjected to rigorous tests to assure you of its safety.
Dr Salifu urged the media to help promote technology and “you could only do that when you understand the issues yourselves”.
He tasked scientists to provide scientific journals as well simplified reports of their research findings for coverage.
Ghana in 2011 passed the Biosafety Law and is in the process of developing regulations to implement the law. The National Biosafety Committee waiting to be inaugurated to an authority has received three applications for trials.
The crops applied for are Bt Cowpea, Bt sweet potato and improved rice.
The researcher for the trials would be Dr Ibrahim D. K. Atokple, a Breeder with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute in Nyankpala in the Northern Region.
According to Dr Atokple, structures were being put in place to meet international standards for the smooth take off of the Confined Field Trials.
Mr Daniel Otunge, OFAB Coordinator, explained that Modern Biotechnology was relatively recent scientific innovation that required deliberate and sustained communication efforts to create awareness and understanding to consumers, legislators and policy makers.
“The media as stakeholders in society should be aware of the developments surrounding this vital technology so that they can inform the public accurately, objectively and responsibly”.
The journalists are being taking through “The role of media in improving biotechnology” and “Biotechnology Governance in Ghana: Understanding the Institutions Responsible for Regulating Biotechnology in Ghana.
They will also undertake field trips to the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute and the Biotechnology Centre of the University of Ghana.