Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) have appealed to parliament to withdraw the Plant Breeders Bill (PBB), before it to avert citizen uprising.
The group asked President John Dramani Mahama to use his prerogative not to give assent to the PBB even if parliament passes it into law.
According to them there is inadequate consultation on the bill and some sections are also in bad faith, which need to be amended.
They made the appeal after an awareness creation workshop on the PBB and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Accra.
The workshop was at the instance of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) in partnership with Action Aid-Ghana, National Catholic Secretariat (NCS) and Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana.
The organisations include National Catholic Secretariat/ National Catholic Bishops Conference, Ghana Pentecostal Council of Churches, Office of the Chief Imam, Marshalans Relief and Development Services, Ahlsussunnah Waijama’a, Ahmadiyaa Muslim Movement of Ghana, and Federation of Muslim Women Association of Ghana.
Mr Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary, Department of Human Development of NCS, said: “For the Catholic Church in Ghana, it is not happening by chance. Our Bishops had advised Parliament to proceed cautiously in the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill.”
“The Head of the Catholic Church – Pope Francis also endorsed a global campaign on ‘Food for All’, which was launched on December, 2013 to run till 2015,” he said.
He said for national Development policy, the “Right to Food” being pursued on the proposed new constitution would be meaningless without food sovereignty.
“We still have opportunity to influence the PBB if religious leaders speak in one voice on the issue. Even if Parliament goes ahead to pass the Bill, our religious leaders can still persuade the President not to give his assent to it,” he added.
Mr Akologo called for increased cooperation of FBOs on common ground issues such as the PBB and introduction of GMOs in Ghana because they hold the key to unlocking citizen’s agency and mobilisation for good governance.
“FBOs are capable of setting the agenda in their engagement with the broader Civil Society Organisations and this called for strategic networking for public policy reform,” he said.
He said the key challenge for FBOs to leverage their full potential in the public policy domain is how to improve coordination of their effort.
Mr Bern Guri, Executive Director of CIKOD, said: “Food is not only for consumption but also the total well-being of people. It is power. It is an identity. If we modify the food we have, it means we lose our culture,” he stated.
Mr Guri also said there is growing evidence of the negative impact of GMOs as many countries had banned GMO seeds because they were not sure of their safety.
He asked the government to support small family agriculture system to ensure food security, instead of resorting to GMOs.
He explained that there are numerous uncertainties regarding GMOs, such as the environmental and health impact on humans and their socio-economic impact on farmers’ livelihoods because they would not be able to afford the seeds due to their cost and patent rights.
Mr Yaw Opoku, Lawyer and member of Food Sovereignty Ghana, a grassroots food advocacy movement, said the PBB currently before Parliament is connected to GMOs.
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