I write this piece not as a rebutter to an article written by Opoku Gakpo on your media, but to throw some light on the issue of GMO trend in Ghana. With all due respect to Mr. Gakpo, the people of Ghana are not just ranting about GMOs because of their political affiliations, little knowledge or limited access to information. When agricultural scientists started crossing different breeds of corn, cassava and the likes, how many people rose to stage any retaliation to these practices? Even during those times, we still had little information about what the scientists were doing.
If we are to lay the facts bare and push politics aside, the issue of accepting or rejecting GMOs lays in the hands of the people ranting about it. Although the media ranting seems out or way but yet, the facts cannot be tainted. I do agree I do agree that there is little knowledge about GMOs among the people of Ghana and it is the media’s responsibility to get the unbiased facts to the people and not the one-sided facts which have been sponsored by benefactors of GMOs.
There are issues with GMOs all over the world and not just in Ghana. Does that mean the people in other places of the world are less informed or bias. In Europe alone, 20 of their top plant scientists demanded in an open letter that there should be an enabling policy allowing for GM plant research, but policy markers continued till date to block such research on political grounds. Some countries even do not allow or permit field experiments with transgenic plants (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015).
In Colorado and Oregon, there was a ballot to determine whether there should be labeling of GMOs in market shelves. Companies like Monsanto and Dupont combined forces to raise over 16 million dollars to campaign against the labeling of GMOs.
One tends to ask the question, is there something they are hiding from the public. These are some of the mysteries surrounding the introduction of GMOs, the supposed savior of food security.
If we are to look at the one problem with GMOs that most campaigners tend to ignore but which has been the bedrock of farming in Africa or most developing countries and that is farmers own seeds. GMOs are genetically created to which no farmer can sit in his house and create. With every crop that is produced, the seed must be genetically modified over and over again; therefore, farmers must continue to purchase these seeds with each farming season.
If we are to put the science aspect of GMOs to the bedrock and pose the social issue on board, are we prepared as a nation to go that way? When the government fails to import GM seeds due to reasons beyond their thought, does that imply the nation going hungry that very year. Even if there are producers in Ghana, are their production capacities up to the challenge of feeding all Ghanaians likening it to the poultry industry? Are we prepared to make our farmers dependent on some company for their seed supply? If that should happen then there will be no democracy in farming but rather a dictatorship farming with one man or institution dictating the course and nutrition of Ghanaians. We as a nation are at a disadvantage with GMOS. Our might does not match our wits.
Some are also of the notion that GMOs come to increase food production. Currently FAO’s(2015) postharvest losses stands at about 15% – 50% for all developing countries including countries like Ghana. The issue is not with production, but rather with postharvest losses. So if we are to tackle food security as a nation, GM does not count because we will end up achieving the same results of postharvest losses. The solution lies in being efficient with our production resources and curbing the postharvest losses in our production line.
We are not to jump the guns and make hasty decisions just because some developed countries think that’s the best way to go. If I am your friend doesn’t mean all your enemies should equally be my enemies. The same applies to GMOs. If it works fine for a few countries doesn’t mean it will work same for Ghana. Development in America varies with that of Ghana for the basic reason that our culture varies. Let us be smart in fixing our problems and not pay heed to solutions that have been derived for us from a distance.
FAO, (2015). Post-harvest losses aggravate hunger.
Royal Society of chemistry, (2015). US states reject GM labeling laws.