Professor at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Daniel Okae-Anti says the application of GMO technology to food production can help reduce the use of chemicals on farms.
He says there is a lot of misinformation about the technology which is fueling public perception against it but GMOs are actually not hazardous to humans nor injurious to the environment.
"At the mention of GMOs, most people think it’s all about chemicals, but rather the GMO products are coming to reduce agro-chemical spray," Prof. Okae-Anti of the Department of Soil Science at UCC noted.
He was speaking during a panel discussion on the topic: “GMOs: human killer or hunger killer?” and screening of science movie Food Evolution on the campus of UCC.
The event organised by Alliance for Science Ghana and International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) - UCC sought to educate the students on emerging technologies driving agricultural production across the world that can be used to deal with challenges of food production.
He noted farming practices are continually changing on a daily basis which makes production challenging but "fortunately, scientific innovations including agricultural biotechnology (GMOs) will help us meet these challenges."
Project Officer at the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Ghana Enoch Ilori said there is no evidence GMOs have caused deaths anywhere in the world and so there is nothing for Ghanaians to fear about its introduction into the country.
He expressed concern there are vast misunderstanding and ignorance about GMOs that is creating fear which is undermining efforts to encourage the use of improved technology to ensure food security in the country.
Ghanaian scientists have completed trials on the country’s first GMO crop (Bt cowpea) with inherent resistance to attacks by the destructive bollworm pests and are expected to apply for environmental and commercial release soon.
But some civil society groups have been on a campaign urging government to ban GMOs and some have even sued the state in court to block the approval processes.
Mr. Ilori assured that Ghanaian scientists working on GMO crops locally will not introduce any product that will harm their fellow statesmen.
“Ghanaian scientists are not shopping in different markets, it is the same market they shop from, and I do not think they want to kill themselves if they are not sure about the safety of GM foods,” Mr. Ilori said.
He called for more education on the technology to ensure the public properly understands it.
Research scientist with the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agric Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission Daniel Ofosu encouraged farmers and consumers to be open-minded when it comes to discussing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
He said GMOs were the solutions to major problems in the agriculture sector, and the technology has repeatedly been proven to be safe.
Prof. J. P. Tetteh who is a plant breeder at the Department Of Crop Science at UCC told participants in other to reduce food and nutrition insecurity, the Agric Ministry must modernize agriculture by improving productivity, mechanization, irrigation and water management.
Vegetable farmer Albert Thompson in an interview with the media after the screening and panel discussion expressed concern ignorance and misconception about advanced technology is destroying the agricultural sector.
He said there has been fear-mongering widely associated with GMOs because of ignorance. He expressed concern over why some anti-technology civil society groups had sought to thwart the efforts by scientists to help improve agriculture through innovation.
Mr. Dennis Baffour Awuah of Alliance for Science Ghana, the organization that planned the event expressed confidence the screening of the Food Evolution movie and panel discussion that followed will help open the minds of Ghanaians to the technology.
The movie explores the brutally polarized debate that the introduction of 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.