The mention of the acronym ‘GMO’ and the phrase ‘Plant Breeders Bill’ reminds many Ghanaians of the heated contest over our food security and the protection of our indigenous plant varieties. At the end of what was almost three years of heated public debate, it was clear that the masses of Ghanaians were vehemently opposed to the imposition of UPOV 91, an alien law disguised as the Plant Breeders Bill (PBB), on the people.
The clear refusal of the people of Ghana to accept their food rights being taken over by Transnational Corporations (TNCs) was evidenced by the varying sectors from which opposition to the PBB and GMOs arose from. For once in a long time; The Church, Our Traditional Authorities, Farmers, Civil Societies, Students, Market Women, Trades Folk, Sections of the Academia, and even some Politicians, all came together to collectively decry the looming threat of food slavery the PBB posed.
In the midst of the debate and demonstrations, cautions were sent to parliament to desist from passing the Plant Breeders Bill. You may read one of such specific cautions in this link; (Read more)
Despite such cautions, some government officials and MPs remained adamant on the issues and sought to throw dust in the eyes of the public. Read more .
Such disingenuous maneuverings by those in whose hands the public had entrusted their welfare to sent civil society into full blown demonstrations on the streets of Accra and beyond. Please read more.
In the end, it was established that GMOs were simply unpopular technologies which were being dumped on Ghanaians. This was because they had failed to deliver on what they had promised elsewhere and were being rejected in Europe, Asia, The Americas and right here in our backyard, South Africa. Read more
The insistence of government to pass the PBB into law did not go down well with the agitating masses. In the final analysis, the Attorney General had to be cautioned as well. Her office had championed a bill which, for all intents and purposes, was inimical to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Ghanaian Farmer, and for that matter the entire population. Read Caution to the AG’s department .;
Government’s persistent support for the Plant Breeders Bill, with the intention of GMOs riding on the back of this bill, had no concrete benefit to the ordinary Ghanaian. Any benefit that may accrue thereof could only be to the ruling class. You may want to read how they would benefit from this arrangement here; Read more
In the end, a voice of reason came to bear on the matter. The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Doe Adjaho, directed MPs to go and conduct further consultation with their constituents on the bill. However, up till now, MPs have remained mute on the matter. Civil Societies and various interest groups are not being consulted. What is going on can only be described as underhanded arrangements of field trials and arrangements to bring in the GMOs at the blind side of the public.
Government has actually gone ahead to sign on to the tenets of the PBB at the regional level. This they hope would be a spring board to smuggling in UPOV 91 compliant plant breeder laws into Ghana. What they fail to realize is that the activist movements are carefully monitoring their steps and will, at the right time, crank back into action the very machinery that brought their initial dealings to a halt.
Currently, our MPs are back in Parliament. With elections in the offing, every Ghanaian must, as matter of patriotism and survival, vote out anyone of them who dares vote into law the Plant Breeders Bill – A bill which does not only sell our sovereignty but also disregards our national constitution (Read Clause 23 of the PBB). This Bill is nothing but a Trojan horse akin to the Bond of 1844, which will take us right back to becoming colonies; this time not as colonies of distinct nations, but faceless Transnational Corporations and Conglomerates who remain as evasive as shadows in the dark.
We are also aware of reports which indicate that our representatives in parliament are waiting to pass this ignoble bill after the elections. What they forget is that, while the elections remain an end to them, it is only a means by which the people demand responsibility of them. The people of Ghana will remain vigilant and take to task any law maker or government official who goes ahead to endorse this injustice now, or in the future.
From the socioeconomic evolution of modern man and technology, we are aware that Agriculture is the last frontier. It is the domain yet to be fully colonized by the so called Intellectual Property rights, especially in Africa. This new attempt to legislate what a man can grow and eat can only deepen further the exploitation of man by fellow man.
As such, Ghanaians are strongly opposed to any such actions of the government which will worsen the plight of our already impoverished peasants and suffering masses. We remain resolute and firm in our rejection of the PBB in its current state. We are also strongly opposed to the introduction of unhealthy and solely profit motivated GMOs into our country.
Jason Tutu Deputy Chair Agricultural Sovereignty Ghana.