GM crops capable of controlling Fall Armyworms – National Biosafety Authority
He noted that the fall armyworms could not attack all plants, which indicates that some plants had natural resistance and therefore, maize and other crops that could not withstand the army worm needed to be genetically modified.
Mr Okoree made these remarks in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the sideline of a media training and seminar on biotechnology and Biosafety.
The event dubbed: ‘Agric Dialogue Series’ was organised by the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) in collaboration with Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).
GARDJA’s initiative which registered over fifty journalists, created an avenue to gain knowledge on science reporting, the importance of modern biotechnology and its impact on agriculture.
Mr Okoree said the modern biotechnology system allows scientists and researchers to transfer genes from plants that have natural resistance through genetic engineering and then insert it to maize which implies the maize will be genetically modified.
He further explained that the maize would then have natural resistance inbuilt; to resist the fall army worm.
He said the biotechnology system was possible; however, the technology was not available in Ghana.
Mr Okoree noted that it was about time Ghana adopted it; and it should be backed by enough funding, as scientists and researchers would need lots of funds trying to transfer genes from the natural source.
He said the objective of NBA was to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of safe development transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms from biotechnology that may have adverse effect on health and environment.
Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, National Coordinator for OFAB said there were no nutritional differences between genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their non-GMO counterparts, unless the nutritional content of the GM crop had been intentionally modified.
He said GM and non-GM crops all compete and struggle for position of dominance in their ecosystem to ensure that winner- takes -all; and this was not the case of the GM crops alone.
“Studies shows that GM crops pose no risk to the environment, but rather help to reduce agriculture’s impact on human health and the environment”, he added.
Professor Kenneth Ellis Danso, Director at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, also noted that plant biotechnology involved the modification of the generic material of the plant with the aim of developing or improving one or more characteristics in the organism.
He said contrary to popular misconceptions, GM crops were the most extensive crops ever added to our food supply.
Prof Danso said the prospects for adopting modern methods of improving crops in Ghana would ensure food security, higher economic benefits and mitigation against climate change; all these advantages meets the Sustainable Development Goals to which Ghana is a signatory.
Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, National Coordinator for OFAB said there were no nutritional differences between GMOs and their non-GMO counterparts, unless the nutritional content of the GM crop has been intentionally modified.
He said GM and non- GM crops all compete and struggle for position of dominance in their ecosystem to ensure that winner takes all; and this was not the case of the GM crops alone.
“Studies shows that GM crops pose no risk to the environment, but rather help to reduce agriculture’s impact on human health and the environment”, he saidd.
Mrs Ama Kudom-Agyemang, an Environmental Communicator/ Journalist, tasked the media to provide a platform through which the farmer could engage with policy makers, so their perspectives could be taken on board.
She pointed out that the media is positioned to raise the profile of agriculture amongst decision-makers as well as the wider public, and in communicating farmers’ needs.