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12.01.2006 General News

Ghana to host conference in Biotechnology

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 12, GNA - Ghana would host this year's West Africa Ministerial Conference on Biotechnology in June, Professor Walter Alhassan, Programme for Biosafety System (PBS) Coordinator for West and Central Africa on Thursday said.

Ghana won the bid due its contributions and interest in the area, he said, adding that hosting the Conference was between Ghana and Senegal but Ghana won due to its "dynamism". Speaking at the press conference in Accra on the release of the 2005 Global Status of Commercialised Biotech and Genetically Modified Crops in Accra, he said ministers of Environment, Science and Agriculture in sub-region would attend the Conference. The press briefing was organised by PBS on behalf of the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications ISAAA.

He said it was unfortunate that Ghana had still not passed its Biosafety Framework though it would be hosting the Conference. He added that though it would not have any effect on the country, "questions would asked as to why we won the bid when we have not passed our law on biosafety".

The Framework, which, he said, was before Cabinet would be jointly facilitated by Ministries of Environment and Science and Food and Agriculture and urged the two ministries top speed up the process. The Framework and its other nine accompanying instruments are meant to ensure an adequate level of production in the field of safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking into account risks to human health.

Ghana was among 130 countries to develop their national Bio-safety Frameworks to help to meet their obligations with regard to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety in May 2003.

Mr Alex Owusu-Biney, National Biosafety Project Coordinator, said with Ghana being the first to complete the framework in Africa, she was being considered for additional support by UN Environment Programme and another organisation for four years to help to implement its bio-safety framework. It is also to help build the needed capacity, including the development of a national bio-safety clearinghouse, for information exchange as required. 12 Jan. 06

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