Health Risks Of Pesticide Residue, A Major Concern - Prof. Alhasssan

Professor Walter Alhassan, a Consultant on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), has asked Ghanaians to be more concerned about the health risks posed by pesticide residue in food crops.

State institutions responsible for monitoring these residue, he said, must be supported with the vital equipment and logistics to effectively perform to ensure public safety.

Prof Alhassan said the worry of the people should not be about the genetically modified products (GMPs), pointing out that, because of global concern, the health impact of these products “are taken very serious and therefore safe to consume”.

He was speaking at a workshop on media outreach and the launch of this year’s global status on genetically modified crops at Bunsu in the East Akim Municipality.

Ghana currently has no GMO seeds but he hinted, it was working on genetically modified cowpea, cotton and rice seeds – this was still at the research stage.

Prof Alhassan provided statistics on worldwide genetically modified crop adaptation and said between year 1996 and 2015, this shot up from 1.7 million hectares to 179.7 million hectares, of which, 54 per cent was in the developing nations, led by South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

He called for increased investment in the training of genetic modification scientists and researchers in the country to help achieve food security.

This, he said, was necessary in the face of the fast changing environment - climatic change and pests.

He said there was the need to develop scientific approach to deal with those challenges.

He reminded all that the world was not waiting for anybody and had moved from genetic modification technology to genetic editing technology, which “does not involve the transfer of genes from one organism to the other but suppression of specific genes within the organism to enable the organism to develop the desired characteristics”.

Dr. Lawrence Aboagye, Director of Plant Genetic Research and Resources Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-PGRRI), said the institute would continue to preserve and conserve plant species to enable researchers have access to plant genes they wanted.

He announced the development of a new variety of “taro” (water yam) for distribution to farmers.

The new variety was easily digestible and good for the preparation of infant food and as food for diabetic patients, he added.