Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) a food advocacy orgasanisation, has sued the National Biosafety Committee and Ministry of Food and Agriculture, over the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) cowpeas and rice.
A statement issued by Mr George Tetteh Wayo, Spokesperson on Legal Affairs, Communications Directorate; FSG Secretariat in Accra on Monday said the writ of summons applied for an interim injunction to restrain the defendants from the release and commercialisation of GM cowpeas and rice until the provisions of the Biosafety Act are expressly and fully obeyed.
“We are not only calling for an injunction on the commercialisation of GM rice and Bt cowpeas, but on all GM crops until the National Biosafety Authority is in place.
“We have taken this action as a result of the fact that Ghanaians are being constantly bombarded with news items containing false claims that the attempts to impose GM rice and beans… are being done in accordance with the law,” the statement said.
According to FSG Section 13 of the Biosafety Act, 2011, (Act 831), only the National Biosafety Authority has the power to authorise the commercial release of GM foods in Ghana.
“The law says:”13. (1) A person shall not, without the prior written approval of the Authority, import or place on the market a genetically modified organism.
“An application under subsection (1) shall include (a) The information set out in the Third Schedule (b) a risk assessment as set out in the Third Schedule, and (c) any other information that the applicant may consider necessary for an assessment of the potential risks and benefits of the requested activity.”
It said the National Biosafety Authority has not been inaugurated.
The statement said Ghana is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and Article 23 of the Protocol requires Parties, on their own and in cooperation with other States and international bodies, to promote and facilitate public awareness and education, including access to information, regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms.
It also requires Parties to consult the public in the decision-making process, to make public the final decision taken and to inform the public about the means of access to the Biosafety Clearing-House.
It said Section 11 (1) of the Act says: “A person shall not conduct, contain or confine use activity involving genetically modified organisms or their development without the written approval of the Authority.”
The law stipulates in Section 42 (2) that “The Authority shall publish notices of final decisions concerning applications made under this Act in the Gazette and electronic and print media,” in order to ensure public awareness and participation.
The statement said this is a far cry from the secrecy surrounding the experiments currently going on in Ghana.
“We maintain that none of these provisions are being respected.”