Ghana’s capacity to regulate crops produced using Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology has received a major boost following the release of guidelines on the use of GMOs in the country.
That’s according to Eric Okoree who is Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority, the government agency charged with regulating GMOs in the country.
The eight-page guideline titled: “Biosafety guidelines for handling requests for the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Ghana” was released by the authority a few weeks ago as required by the Biosafety Act 2011.
A letter announcing the release of the guidelines signed by Mr. Okoree to various Agric industry stakeholders said, “We have the pleasure to announce that while waiting for the implementing Regulations to the Act to be passed, the Ghana National Biosafety Authority has issued Guidelines on handling requests for the use of GMOs in Ghana. This is in accordance with Section 40(3) of the Biosafety Act, which mandates the Authority to issue guidelines on its operations.”
He further announced that efforts are underway to build the authority’s capacity to adequately regulate the production of GMO crops in the country.
“The NBA is further putting in place measures to build the capacity needed to assess and make decisions on applications regarding general release of GMOs.
"We, therefore, wish to cease the opportunity to invite all partners to support the Authority to put in place this needed capacity,” the letter added.
The guidelines spell out the procedures that any individual or entity need to go through in requesting approval to undertake confined field trials, commercialise, import and export GMOs out of the country.
Speaking to Joy News during a courtesy call on him by Communications Director of US-based Cornell Alliance for Science Programme, Atu Darko, Mr. Okoree said the publication of the guidelines further strengthens the ability of the authority to regulate the application of GMO technology to food production.
“The release of the guidelines makes us better prepared to receive applications from scientists and anybody on any form of GMO application for the necessary evaluation,” he explained.
Mr. Okoree added that the authority will be fair and firm in executing its responsibility as the oversight body responsible for monitoring the use, handling and transportation of GMOs in the country.
Mr. Atu Darko praised Ghana’s efforts at preparing itself for the application of biotechnology to food production. Currently, no GM crops have been commercialized in Ghana.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is currently undertaking field trials of GMO cotton, cowpea and rice as part of approval procedures before they could be released onto the market.