Health News of Saturday, 10 May 2014
The Ghana Public Health Association (GPHA) has called for detailed transparent toxicological tests on all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) before approval and release to the Ghanaian market.
The Association said there is the need for appropriately regulatory structures that ensure that there is no harm to humans, animals and the environment, GPHA said in a statement signed by Dr. George Amofa, it’s General Secretary, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday.
The statement said the GPHA position as reached at the end of a seminar on Health Implications of GMOs organised by the association, said all GMOs must be appropriately labelled to facilitate post-market monitoring of any health effects.
The Association said regulatory, clinical trial and post-marketing monitoring and surveillance capacities in the country should be strengthened, adding that universities and research institutions should be supported and equipped in the area of biotechnology.
The GPHA statement said there is great potential to improve health, nutrition and food security through GMOs and that the country should place itself appropriately to benefit maximally from the technology.
It said protocols for new GMO trials and release of GMO crops should be transparently reviewed by independent national regulatory body before approval.
The statement said the seminar was driven by current public debate on the subject and that there is a universal agreement that the world’s population is increasing at an alarming rate especially in developing countries, and this poses a major threat to food security.
The GPHA said the United Nations projects that world population will increase by 25 per cent to 7.5 billion by 2020, adding that, “climate change is likely to worsen available food supplies which may lead to malnutrition and other serious health problems”.
The statement said to address these concerns, GMOs have been introduced to improve food production.
The Association explained that GM products include medicines and vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds and fibres.
“As of August 2012, the United States… Food and Drugs Administration approved a total of 144 crops, including corn, soy, cotton, canola, potato, squash and tomato, for commercialisation,” the statement stated.
The statement said in Ghana, the Biosafety Act (2011), Act 831,was passed to establish the National Biosafety Authority with the objective… “to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of safe development, transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms resulting from biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on health and the environment”.
The Association said concerns have been raised about GM crops for a variety of reasons including Ethical, Biosafety (Environmental impact, Health), Bioproperty and Biopolitics considerations.
The GPHA’s seminar concluded on advantages of GMOs including improving the nutritional properties of crops to enhance human health through food fortification with desired vitamins and minerals and provide potential for production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.