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27.10.2005 General News

Let's preserve genetic resources - Oteng Yeboah

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Accra Oct. 27 GNA - Professor Alfred Oteng Yeboah, a Deputy Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Thursday, advocated for the institutionalisation of a regulatory framework that would protect the nation's genetic resource base.

He said the genetic resource of a country was the heritage of the people and, therefore, needed to be protected for the generations yet unborn.

"The genetic resources of a country is the heritage of the people and, therefore, anything that is to come out of any such material should be first and foremost of benefit to the people," he said. Prof Oteng-Yeboah was addressing about 20 participants attending the second and final workshop on: "Implementing of the Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising out of their Utilisation".

The workshop was to identify the constraints and benefits of accessing genetic resources as well as finalise a draft document on Ghana's position on preserving its biological resources in line with the Conventions on Biological Diversity.

Prof Oteng-Yeboah said it was pathetic that Ghana as a nation had not considered the benefits of documenting its genetic resources so that it could share with other nations when the need arose.

He cited the case of Ecuador, which was growing cocoa using Ghana's cocoa as its standard, whilst working on how to improve the quality to supersede that of Ghana.

Prof Oteng-Yeboah said it was important that scientists identified the genetic resources that were indigenous to Ghana alone for preservation for the future.

He said the law on the introduction of foreign plant materials should be looked at critically and enforced, because a lot of people easily forget about the origins of some alien species, citing the example of the water hyacinth.

He urged the Government to continually update its polices in line with international conventions, so that the people would not be left out in the conformity with international norms and standards. Prof Edwin A. Gyasi, of the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, said the lack of an appropriate framework for regulating the utilisation of the genetic resource in ways that would motivate their conservation was a major shortcoming. He advocated that plant genetic materials and knowledge about their uses and management should no longer be given on a charitable base. 27 Oct. 05

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