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Ghana Must Welcome GM Foods - Professor   
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Professor Jemmy Takrama of the Cocoa Research Institute, has joined the calls on Ghana to accept Genetically Modified (GM) foods towards ensuring food security.

He said it was time the country ignored the “wild” stories about the technology and adopted it to produce more food cheaply to eliminate hunger among the populace.

Prof. Takrama made the call at the 2nd National Sanitation, Food Hygiene and Safety conference, in Ho.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains: “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.

“The technology is often called ‘modern biotechnology’ or ‘gene technology’, sometimes also ‘recombinant DNA technology’ or ‘genetic engineering’. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.

The conference, under the auspices of Ho Technical University, formerly Ho Polytechnic, had support from Zoomlion Ghana Limited. It is aimed at creating a platform for experts to deliberate on sanitation and food safety in the country.

Prof. Takrama, who was delivering a lecture on, "Sanitation and Food Hygiene Practices in Ghana: Progress, challenges and prospects", said GM foods were safe and that the process only involved the use of new gene technology to produce food.

He explained that the genes did not enter the food as speculated by some people, saying, it was simply a “by-pass” strategy to protect crops from attacks from insects and worms.

Prof. Takrama said because the crops were protected from attacks and infections, they grew better, bigger and more beautiful but with the same taste.

He said the technology was also economical because farmers needed little or no insecticide and challenged the country to take the bold decision as did by Burkina Faso, Sudan, Egypt, the United States and Australia, to enhance the lots of the poor.

Professor Emmanuel Sakyi, the Vice-Chancellor, Ho Technical University, said it was important for the country to adopt strategies that ensured sustainable development and said the platform would help use research findings to shape government policies.

On the safety of GM foods, the WHO explains:“Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.

“Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods.”

Parliament is yet to pass the National Biosafety Act, 2011 into law to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of safe development transfer, handling and use of GM organisms resulting from biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on health and the environment among others.
Source: GNA

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