Genetically modified food controversies in Ghana

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Controversy around genetically modified organisms (GMO) has been widespread in Ghana since 2013[1] after the Ghanaian government announced [2] an introduction of GMO technology into the country that same year. Activist groups including Food Sovereignty Ghana, The Coalition For Farmers Rights And Advocacy Against GMOs, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Convention People’s Party and individuals have spoken against its introduction.[3][4][5] The disputes concern whether organisms procured from genetic engineering should be allowed into the market. Activists consider genetically manipulated food as a health hazard, "neo-colonialist" and a threat to economic and food sovereignty and national security.[6]

Ghana's Biosafety Act 831, 2011 has already permitted the introduction of GM foods.[7] Currently “confined field trials” of GM rice and cowpea in the Ashanti region, and cotton in the 3 northern regions in the country, are under way. [8] There is a temporary injunction on any further GMO commercialization and development until a case brought by Food Sovereignty Ghana against the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been concluded[9]

History of GMOs in Ghana[edit]

The history of GMOs in Ghana is not clear. According to a feature which appeared on, Ghana's first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah promoted research into GMOs to produce disease and weather resistant varieties and high yielding breeds of organisms.[10] However, Nkrumah's daughter, Samia claimed that her father would have "rejected... the proliferation of GMOs into Ghana".[11] The same feature [10] also claimed that the establishment of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission in 1963, National Research Council (now CSIR) and Ghana Academy of Sciences began research into biotechnology as well as that the Nungua Black Sheep, a highly productive and robust sheep in Ghana, was one of the results of the research. This was also disputed.[citation needed]

Plant Breeders Bill controversy[edit]

The controversy on GMOs has taken another turn with the discovery that the Ghanaian Parliament is considering Plant Breeders Right Bill, which protects the rights of scientists and corporations to seeds or crops developed for Ghana. Simply put, for the crops in question, the country will have to depend on certified seeds invented by multi-national and other GMO seed producers, thus surrendering Ghana's food sovereignty to individuals and organisations. Activists belief this could also ruin local farmers who are rather worth investing in, than GMOs.[5][12]

Pro Plant Breeders Bill opinions have indicated that GMOs and the bill are unrelated. The bill is "to protect the breeders and bring royalty to the breeder and the country" according to Dr Margaret Ottah Atikpo, Head of the Microbiology Division of the Food Research Institute.[8]


  1. ^ "Genetically Modified Organism Debate". Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ghana to adopt GMO products - Minister". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Food Sovereignty Ghana demonstrates against GM products". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Thousands in Ghana Protest GMOs". Revolution News. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Catholic Bishops Join 'War'". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "GMOs Are "Neo-Colonialist", Security Threat To Ghana - Group". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Ghana’s law on GM foods finally gets Presidential Assent". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Controversy Over Genetically Modified Food Rages". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Court Orders Temporary Halt On GM Commercialization". Food Sovereignty Ghana. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Otokunor’s Lens: GMO’s; The Fears, Facts, Politics, Economics and the Future". Peace FM Online. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Samia: Nkrumah would’ve rejected "impoverishing" IMF bailout". Star FM Online. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Consult more on Plant Breeders Bill". Vibe Ghana. Retrieved 31 January 2014.