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General News of Thursday, 26 December 2013

Source: David Apinga, Xfmnewscenter, Accra.

Ghana Health Service joins Genetically Modified Foods war

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is calling for an extensive stakeholder debate to unravel the full effects of genetically modified (GM) foods before it is accepted and produced commercially in Ghana.
On Wednesday December 24, Director of the Health Service, Dr. Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira told Kwaku David on the 'Xpress Breakfast Show' on XFM 95.1 that, " we need to go a bit slow on that. Discussions are out there and we need to continue".
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified (GM) foods as foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally; that is through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.
According to WHO, “currently available GM foods stem mostly from plants, but in future foods derived from GMO microorganisms or GM animals are likely to be introduced on the market. Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to improve yield, through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases or of increased tolerance of herbicides”.
"All GM foods should be assessed before being allowed on the market and FAO/WHO Codex guidelines exist for risk analysis of GM food”, WHO stated.
Several developed countries including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Switzerland and Ireland have banned GM foods one way or the other due to the health implications but China, US ( not all states), Finland, Canada, Spain, Britain and South Africa among others, have accepted various forms of GM foods.
Dr. Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira believes there are reasons why a number of European countries who are more sophisticated in terms of science and technology have rejected genetically modified foods and feels Ghana should tread cautiously.
" There are some European countries who are more advanced than us and if they have restricted it, then we have to find out why and probe further because sometimes we may rush into things which may not help us, " he stated.
Asked if such foods are present on the Ghanaian market, he says his outfit do not have any data or evidence which shows the existence of genetically modified foods in the country.
He was quick to add that, " the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is supposed to register all items[foods] that come into the country but if the foods are not declared then they [FDA] wouldn't know and if it is not a good thing then consumers will be at risk ".
The Director is therefore advocating for the labeling of foods that are imported into the country especially if they are genetically modified foods.
" whatever comes in should be labeled 'GM Food' then people may have a choice if they [FDA] allows that in [ the country] ", he concluded.