Friday, October 26, 2012

Ghanaian Crop Scientists Divided Over GMOs

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Dr. Abdulai Lansah, CSIR
Crop Researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute, Ghana (CSIR) are extensively divided over the introduction of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops into a Ghanaian agricultural sector.
While some scientists brushing aside the adoption of GMO crops for the bases of uncertainty health risks, others are of the view that, conventional crop breeding has not withstood the test of time hence the need for all new methods to improve food production.
A Crop Researcher from CSIR Dr. Abdulai Lansah in an exclusive interview with the Enquirer in Bolgatanga, Upper East region, said “Even scientists at CSIR are divided over GMO introduction with the basis of uncertainty health risks”.
There had not been any laboratory analyses that pointed to the fact that, the consumption of GMOs are dangerous to human health according to scientists. However, the introduction of GMOs has sparked various protests from religious, political to traditional raising fears about the introduction ofGMO products.
Dr. Lansah explained that, unlike the conventional crop breeding system that allows natural modification, genetically modified crop procedures use laboratory techniques to change the genes or characteristics of crops. “The genes or traits maybe from animals to crops, from one different plant to another and even from human beings to crops depending on the desired traits”, he disclosed.
He said this methods are raising a lot of questions and created a controversy over the GMOs products the world over. In US, UK and other developed countries, people some cases governments outlawed the importation of GMO products because of alleged health dangers associated to it.
Dr. Lansah explained that questions raised against the consumption of GMO products are most related to beliefs and alleged uncertainty health risks associated with such crops modification processes. However, he said scientists are still researching details about GMO products and until that “we can not confirm or deny questions raised against the consumption of GMOs”.
“For now, Ghana has officially adopted GMO cotton but scientists at CSIR are still testing genetically modified crops which are strictly confined” the crop researcher told this reporter when asked whether or not there are GMOs in Ghana.
Dr. Lansah said, though there is/are no known GMO crops Ghana except Bt. Cotton, people are however, suspecting some brand of soy beans in Ghana to be that of genetically modified. “Some of the seeds come into the market with no labels so it is difficult to differentiate between genetically modified and non genetically modified”, he said.
On food security, he said industrialize agriculture was the sure way out for Ghana. The industrialization he explained would resolved post harvest loses in agriculture sector in Ghana. He disclosed that not less than 40% of total food produce in country is lost in transit because of unavailability of preservation and storage facilities, and good infrastructure such as roads.

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