Severious Kale-Dery & Charles Andoh / Daily Graphic / Ghana, Jan. 19, 2014
The fight against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was taken to another level yesterday as Rastafarians and members of some civil society groups hit the streets of Accra to demonstrate against GMOs and the Plant Breeders’ Bill which is before Parliament.
The groups that took part in the demonstration were the Rastafarian Council, Food Sovereignty Ghana, the Vegetarian Association of Ghana, the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and the Earth Replenishers Foundation.
Chanting “No GMO”, “Away with GMO” and “Chooboei” and intermittently singing the national anthem, with emphasis on the words: “…and help us to resist oppressors’ rule”, the demonstrators started from the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, branched through Adabraka and the TUC, passed in front of the National Theatre before converging on the National Arts Centre to address the press.
Under heavy police guard, the demonstrators stopped from time to time to explain to passers-by the implications of the Plant Breeders’ Bill and GMOs.
They carried placards with weird photos of GMOs, some of which read: “Say no to Man Satan (Monsanto)”, “Monsanto out of Ghana”, “Farmers’ right come first”, “No to the Plant Breeders’ Bill”, “Ban GMOs”, “GMOs will make Ghanaian farmers poor” and “GMO is poison, beware”.
Implications of the Plant Breeders’ Bill
Addressing the participants at the Arts Centre in Accra, the Chairperson of the Coalition for Farmers’ Rights and Advocacy against GMOs, Ms Samia Yaaba Christine Nkrumah, said there was the need for Ghanaians to rise against the imposition of the Plant Breeders’ Bill, which was currently in Parliament.
The passage of the bill will allow the introduction of the GM foods into the country.
Ms Nkrumah stated that the imposition of the bill had far-reaching social, economic and political consequences on Ghanaians and the entire African continent.
She explained that the passage of the bill would disable Ghanaians from having total control over their agricultural and food commodities.
“So can’t we even control our own foods? Is this what our forefathers left for us? Do we want a day to come when someone will control what we eat as Africans?” she asked.
Ms Nkrumah said there was the need for all Ghanaians to come on board to help kick against the bill, since it was not in the interest of the Ghanaian farmer, adding that the call on the ban on GMOs went beyond partisan politics.
She also used the platform to officially launch the coalition and called on bodies such as the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, traditional rulers, women’s advocacy groups, youth groups, the National Chief Imam, among others, to join hands and help defend the interest of the Ghanaian.
Ms Nkrumah further called on parliamentarians to help educate Ghanaians on the bill before attempting to pass it into law, adding, “It is full of legal jargon that cannot be understood by the ordinary Ghanaian.”