Let’s Have Open, Candid Debate On GMOs – Prof Adu-Dapaah

Professor Hans Adu-Dapaah, a former Director of the Crops Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CRI-CSIR), has called for open, candid and informed debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

This, he indicated, was vital because whichever way the nation opted to go – its acceptance or rejection, there would be implications for its food security in the years to come.

He was delivering the “20th Pearson-Osae Appreciation Lecture” organized in Kumasi by the 1977 year alumni of the Prempeh College.

“Accepting or rejecting genetically modified foods (GMOs), implications for food security”, was the topic chosen for the event.

It climaxed a four-day homecoming summit by the group to celebrate its 40th anniversary, which provided the opportunity to reflect on the past and discuss the way forward.

Prof Adu-Dapaah said with Ghana’s population expected to hit close to 52 million within the next 50 years, there was going to be a need to triple food production.

He added that the estimated population growth would likely lead to the rise in food demand and therefore it was necessary for the adoption of improved technologies like genetic engineering in food production.

He said although GMOs might have a downside, it could be essential for food security, if safely harnessed.

Prof Adu-Dapaah, himself an old student, pointed to the decline in soil fertility, climate change - heat and drought, pests and diseases, post-harvest loses and low crop yield, threatening the nation’s food security and said the push towards the GMOs could be in the right direction.

The GMOs, he noted, had so far passed global safety assessments and not likely to harm human and animal health.

“GMOs have proven to be resistant to pest, diseases, and heavy metals. They are drought, herbicides, and salinity tolerant, increase yields, improve family incomes, has better taste and without allergies, and digestible in the human digestive system”, he added.

He urged the government to resource and strengthen the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to enforce biosafety laws and policies so that standards set for GMO procedures were upheld.

There was also the need for strong public-private partnership and capacity building of the key stakeholders including the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for safe development, transfer and handling of GMOs.

Mr. Kwabena F. Asante, the National President of the Old Boys Association, said the lecture was to honor the memories of the Reverend S.N Pearson for his pioneering role in the establishment of the college and Dr. T.A Osae, the first Ghanaian Headmaster, for sustaining the good job of his predecessors.

Four former staff of the college – the Rev Takyi Ansah, the Rev William Blankson and Mrs. Blankson and Madam Rosemina Donkor, were recognized with citations and gifts for their immeasurable service to the school.