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03.03.2006 General News

Ghana to take advantage in biotechnology - Frimpong

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Accra, March 03, GNA - Mr Kofi Frimpong, the Member of Parliament for Kwabre East, on Friday said Ghana cannot afford to ignore and fail to take advantage of the application of biotechnology in the agricultural sector.

He said the potential benefits of biotechnology/GM crops in agriculture in the country cannot be overemphasised and that it is a powerful tool that complements traditional practices in producing products and services that are useful to society. Mr Frimpong said this in a statement on the floor of the House on biotechnology as a tool for agricultural improvement and productivity. "Biotechnology is the technique that makes use of organisms to make or modify products to improve plants or animals or to develop micro-organisms for specific products."

"These technologies include cell and tissue culture, bio-processing, genetic engineering, protein engineering and so on." Mr Frimpong said a growing number of foods derived from GM crops have been introduced into the market and been safely consumed in countries all over the world.

Mr Frimpong said he is aware that the introduction of these novel foods into local diets has raised legitimate concerns about their safety with some "describing it as a destroyer while some are advocating that they must not be consumed or relied upon."

"These perceived mainly have to do with its health and environmental hazards, however with the putting in place of a good legislation and regulatory institutions these risks can be mitigated or avoided."

"However, the advantages of biotechnology in agriculture is enormous including helping to protect the environment, decrease in deforestation, increase in wildlife diversity, less pollution and better animal feed."

Mr Frimpong said GM crops are nutritionally enhanced and can play a key role in helping to alleviate malnutrition in Ghana. It would also lead to increased productivity, reduction in food prices as well as an increase in the income of farmers because of increase of farm yield at lower cost.

He said many countries are practising biotechnology and are reaping a lot of benefits for example; "in Kenya the application of biotechnology in banana production has made it possible for farmers to have higher annual yields, bigger bunch weights and also early maturing."

"It is important for Ghana to build on existing strengths and aggressively address inefficiencies with attention given to strengthening scientific and technical expertise." "Existing infrastructure must be modernised to carry out biotechnology activities including risk assessment, product and process development." 03 March 06