Simplify GMOs for public – former Dept. Minister tells scientists

A former Deputy Agric Minister has urged scientists to simplify the issue of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology for ordinary members of the public to properly understand.

Dr Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu said this is the only way to get Ghanaians to embrace the GMO technology which he describes as a good one, and avoid the negative perception that it is bad for the country.

“The scientific community must wake up to that call of simplifying science for the consumption of ordinary people who do not necessarily have a scientific background,” he said

He said this after the public screening of science movie Food Evolution at the Silver Bird Cinema in Accra, organized by civil society group Alliance for Science Ghana.

Directed by American Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, ‘Food Evolution’ explores the polarized debate that the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the world’s food chain has generated over the years.

It discusses the critical role science and innovation play in building a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone, as the world’s population rises to an estimated population of nine billion by 2050.

“I agree that the demand for science to be simplified for everyday understanding is a legitimate demand, particularly that people in society are now more conscious about what product they consume and, therefore, they will always be ready to ask questions,” Dr Alhassan said.

He insisted that GMOs are nothing harmful and would play a major role in helping transform Ghana’s agricultural sector.

Chairman of Alliance for Science Ghana John Awuku Dziwornu who also participated in the panel discussion said farmers in the country including himself are eagerly awaiting the commercialisation of GMOs to help resolve the challenges they face in their work.

“We can’t wait to have them,” he said.

Ghana Country Coordinator of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Dr. Richard Ampadu, former Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Prof. Walter Alhassan, and Daniel Osei Ofosu of the Programs for Biosafety Systems all advocated the introduction of GMOs into Ghana saying they hold the key to food production.

GMOs are crops produced from seeds which have been altered genetically to introduce desired traits like pest resistance and drought tolerance from other living organisms.

Following the passage of the Biosafety Act by Parliament in 2011, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been undertaking field trials for GM cotton, cowpea and rice to allow for their introduction in the country.

Some civil society groups have kicked against the plans but the scientists say the technology is only an advanced form of plant breeding procedures that will pose no health nor socio-economic harm to the country.

More than 250 people participated in the screening of the movie including members of the International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) of the University of Ghana.

Some of the participants who spoke after the screening described the movie as an educative piece that needs to be seen by a lot more people so they can understand the issues driving the GMO debate.

-Written by Joseph Opoku-Gakpo in Joy Online.  See original article link here.