About 80 selected students drawn from 8 senior high schools in the Northern Region have undergone a day’s sensitization workshop on Biotechnology at the Nyankpala campus of the University of Development Studies in Tamale

Dr. Margaret Ottah Atikpo, Focal Person of OFAB-Ghana Chapter, explained that the workshop was to “sensitize students on job prospects in the field of biotechnology and to encourage them to enroll in the subject for a better future”.

Biotechnology is the use of scientific methods to produce genetically modified food crops that are more pest, disease and drought resistant and with short maturity periods. It uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives to make or modify products or processes for specific uses.

The technology has however suffered setbacks with controversies surrounding its introduction in Ghana since 2013 after the government announced it.

Anti-GMOs groups and some individuals have raised concern about its safety encouraging Ghanaians to stand up against its introduction into the country’s food chain.

They claimed accepting it will amount to “seed colonisation and seed slavery” which OFAB – Ghana has rejected vehemently

This has affected the technology in diverse ways including its study as subject in schools by students.

But addressing the students Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Prof. Gabriel Ayum Teye, advised students to adopt the study of biotechnology as it has a lot of job prospects for them after school.

According to him, enrolling more students to study the biotechnology subject in the Universities would help in boosting agriculture, address the country’s food security challenges and improve incomes of farmers.

Dr. Margaret Ottah Atikpo who is also a Deputy Director of CSIR told Joy News that the time has come for Ghanaians to make good use of the modern agricultural biotechnology as it has the potential to make significant contribution to food security, poverty reduction and environmental conservation. She therefore urged the students to enroll on the biotechnology course for a better future.

A former Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana (CSIR), Prof. Walter Sandow Alhassan, lamented most people in the Ghana, especially students are oblivious of the vast job opportunities embedded in the study of biotechnology therefore they find it difficult to read the subject.

“I want to tell you now on authority that studying biotechnology in School has many job opportunities to offer. For instance anyone who studied it could be a teacher, a researcher in clinical and industrial areas, as well as a pharmacist, just to mention a few, I will therefore encourage you to take advantage,” he advised them.

Dr I.D.K Atokple, a retired scientist at the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI),  said it was time the country embraced Genetically Modified (GM) crops since they were very beneficial to farmers, and desist from saying GM foods are poisonous to the human body.

The Head of Department of Biotechnology at the UDS, Professor Albert Kojo Quainoo, in an interview with journalists said four years after the passing of the Biosafety Law (Act 831), it still needed more education and patience to convince the populace about the relevance of biotechnology.

He said although the journey had not been easy, he was optimistic that it was going to be recognized and accepted by all in the next 20 years, and the benefits would be enormous, he added.

The schools that participated are: Kalpohin Senior High School, St. Charles Senior High School, Tamale Islamic Senior High School, Tamale Senior High School, Tamale Girls Senior High Schools, Ghana Senior High School, Tolon Senior High School and Kumbungu Senior High School.

The forum was organized by the Ghana Chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in collaboration with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana.