#Science & Technology
Ghana National Biosafety Authority

On 18th February 2022, Ghana’s National Biosafety Authority, the nation’s GMO regulator, announced that it is reviewing an application for the environmental release of the country’s first GMO crop – the pod borer resistant (PRB) cowpea. The authority is inviting comments from members of the public before it makes a final decision on the request.

There are at least seven sound reasons for Ghana’s National Biosafety Authority to approve the genetically modified pod borer resistant (PBR) cowpea for environmental release for the following reasons:

1) PBR cowpea will protect the health of farmers
Farmers growing conventional cowpea, or beans, spray their fields with pesticides between 8 and 12 times in the 12-week life cycle of the plant. Farmers and day laborers who apply these chemicals often suffer from pesticide exposure, which can result in them getting dizzy, falling sick and seeking medical attention, among several other negative health impacts. By growing of GMO PBR cowpea, farmers can reduce spray applications to just twice per season, thereby protecting their health.

2) PBR cowpea will protect the environment
By dramatically reducing the frequency that they must spray their cowpea fields with PBR cowpea cultivation, farmers will be using up to 80% less pesticides on cowpea crops than hey currently do. This will help protect the environment, biodiversity and beneficial living organisms in the environment.

3) PBR cowpea will offer farmers increased yield and increased income
Field trials have shown that because of its inherent capacity to resist pest attacks, the GMO cowpea offers a five-fold yield increase compared to non-GMO varieties. This means that farmers growing PBR cowpea can reduce farming costs and earn more income, thus lifting themselves out of poverty.

4) PBR cowpea will improve nutrition
Higher yields will help ensure increased availability of the protein-rich crop, improving child nutrition and protein intake and reducing the impacts and frequency of malnutrition. This will go a long way in helping Ghana meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2 calling for no poverty and zero hunger, respectively.

5) Ghana has adequate laws and institutions to regulate GMOs
In 2011, Ghana passed the Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831) to regulate GMOs in the country. The law spells out processes required before GMO crops get released into the environment. In 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation set up the National Biosafety Authority to oversee processes relating to the production of GMOs in the country. In 2019, parliament approved a subsidiary legislation, the Biosafety (Management of Biotechnology) Regulations 2019, to better enhance the country’s legal regime for GMO crops production. All these are indications that Ghana has adequate laws and capacity to regulate GMOs for the benefit of Ghanaians.

6) PBR cowpea was produced by public sector scientists
The GMO PBR cowpea was produced by public sector scientists at the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) — not by a large company or foreign corporation. These are the same scientists who have for years produced various non-GMO varieties for the benefit of farmers all over the country. Local development and production give Ghana full control over the crop.

7) PBR cowpea is safe
GMO crops, including the PBR cowpea, have been confirmed by thousands of scientific and research organisations in Ghana and worldwide to be as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. There is no documented evidence that GMOs have caused any harm to any individual who consumed them. In neighbouring Nigeria, farmers have started growing GM PBR in their fields. They testify to the crop’s positive benefits and also to its safety for both humans and animals and its overall good taste.

We look forward to the National Biosafety Authority approving the PBR cowpea for the benefit of Ghanaian consumers and farmers.

We the undersigned individuals urge Ghana’s National Biosafety Authority to approve the genetically modified pod borer resistant (PBR) cowpea for environmental release.

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The Support approval of GMO cowpea in Ghana petition to Ghana National Biosafety Authority was written by Alliance for Science and is in the category Science & Technology at GoPetition.