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02.11.2005 General News

Country Advisory Group on Bio-safety Inaugurated

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Accra, Nov. 2, GNA- A 13-member Country Advisory Group (CAG) on Bio-safety was on Wednesday inaugurated with the task of advising the implementation of the country Programme for Bio-safety Systems (PBS) associate award to promote the judicious use of modern agricultural biotechnology in Ghana.

This is also to ensure that there is increase in agricultural productivity, leading to market development and higher rural incomes.

Inaugurating the group, Professor Walter Alhassan, PBS Coordinator for West and Central Africa said with the coming into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety, it was necessary to build local capacity in safe exploitation of tools of modern biotechnology to solve the country's problem in agricultural, the environment and industry.

"The USAID country mission through PBS is assisting Ghana to build that capacity for the safe handling of Genetically Modified Organisations (GMOs) and for export as necessary".

The advisory group is made up heads from Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ( CSIR), Farmers Organisation Network in Ghana, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute (BNARI), National Biosafety Committee.

The rest are Faculty of Agriculture, University of Development Studies, Food and Drugs Boards, USAID, Nouguchi Memorial Institute into Medical Research.

The group will also facilitate communication and implementation of programme strategies and priorities in the country, provide a representative base for policy development and offer periodic assessment of the output of the projects and advise on the way forward.

The group has a three-year lifespan to correspond with the project with funding level of about 750,000 US dollars from USAID.

Prof. Alhassan noted that with the Bio-safety bill now at cabinet for study to be brought back to the Ministry for onward submission to the Attorney General for the final draft to be submitted to parliament for approval.

The group suggested that, while waiting for the bill to be passed into law, existing regulatory legislation, such as plant quarantine law and seed law should be tapped to work with, in order not to deny people of accessing the technology.