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Business News of Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Influential foreign companies pushing 'dirty seeds' in Africa - CSOs warn

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in agriculture are raising red flags about surreptitious attempts by some foreign companies to push what they describe as "poisonous seeds" onto farms in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) and Centre for Development Research and Agro-Innovation (CEDRAI) are among the CSOs who have expressed disappointment with the extent to which the largest agro-poisonous chemical and seed company, Monsanto, has brainwashed some Ghanaian elites to become their agents in promoting their products to the detriment of the old age farmer-saved seeds.

While food sovereignty organisations advocate for healthy and cancer free food crops in Africa, these agents are using supposedly anticipated food security crisis to advocate for acceptance of ‘dirty seeds’ commonly referred to as Genetically Modified Seeds in the Ghanaian market.

There are indications that, many of these interest groups are influenced by parochial and material interests as against the interest of the Ghanaian tax payer. Being very well resourced they have frantically and desperately embarked on an agenda of “divide and rule” among small holder farmers who hitherto have been united against the introduction of GMOs.

Majority of farmers have expressed worry that if government does not intervene speedily “Usain Bolt” to protect and preserve the local seeds against ‘seeds of death’ for its citizens, farmers will soon become seed dependents. They contend that, the proponents of GMOs have not been able to articulate their reasons clearly on why Ghana should accept GMOs with all its negative implications to the Ghanaian farmer apart from their claims of yield increase.

The group cautions Ghana not to follow the footsteps of Burkina Faso who rushed to accept GMOs BT cotton leading to the near collapse of their cotton industry and now have to go back for the conventional cotton. Ghana accepting of GMOs will have dire consequences on the Economic Partnership Agreement the country signed with EU since there is a complete ban of GMOs in EU.

Monsanto ordered to pay $289m in Roundup cancer trial

Mosanto, a GMO seed producing company has suffered a massive lawsuit to the tune of $289 million in breach of safety regulations in the United States of America (where it is relatively easy to conduct authentic medical laboratory examination to ascertain the impact of GMO seeds on our health).

Online portal Aljazeera reports on 11 August 2018 that, the Agribusiness company was ordered to pay damages to man who says he got terminal illness after using a popular weed killer.

This was arrived at after a California jury ordered chemical giant Monsanto to pay nearly $290m for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that its weed killer Roundup might cause cancer.

According to the report, the jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life," said Robert F Kennedy Jr, a member of Johnson's legal team. "This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto."

Roundup is Monsanto's leading product and glyphosate is reportedly the world's most commonly used weed killer.

For whatever the motivation is, some scientists paid by taxpayers money and have been commissioned to produce seeds locally have abandoned the project to throw their support behind the importation of GM seeds that cannot be guaranteed and comes with stringent conditions.

Burkina Faso is reeling under poor GMO cotton seed arrangement and quickly reverting to their locally produced seed with speed to save their bastardized cotton industry.

Mohammed Abdul-Rahman is the President of the Cotton Producers Association of Ghana, and according to him, “Burkina Faso did not make it with the adoption of BT cotton. They have currently pulled out of the arrangement because of low yield and poor cotton quality from BT Cotton seeds. They are now going in for conventional cotton. This year 2018, Burkina had to go to Togo to buy conventional seeds for their cotton production.”

Mosanto entered Burkina Faso with the intention of spreading their business across other West African countries but stiff opposition from farmers have kept them at bay. It does not suggest that they are pulling off their pedals any time soon.

A wave of training for journalists in parts of Ghana supported by weak voices of some scientists and “ill-informed farmers” with no valid evidence has become their new strategy to buy the conscience of the Ghanaian. Even though this is failing rapidly, the straw appears even weaker with strong voice of the peasant farmer.

PFAG outlines the dangers

Madam Victoria Adongo, the Executive Director of PFAG, said: “These companies are using our scientists and journalists as their aid to push for the importation of GM seeds in Africa.” Peasant Farmers across Africa must wake up against neo-colonisation and all its forms.

There is a very big question mark about GMOs. The scientists are saying that there is no proof that GMOs have caused any sickness and whiles other scientists are saying it causes cancer. We are not sure whether GMOs causes cancer or not. “If you put down what you ARE SURE will NOT cause you any cancer or any sickness besides what you are not sure about which one will you choose. You will definitely take the one that you are sure when you eat you will not fall sick.”

The scientists themselves have not been able to prove otherwise There is a big DISSONANCE about the safety of GMOs. So why don’t you go with the one you are sure about?

“Rich companies must stop pushing their ‘dirty seeds’ on Africa and use their wealth to provide market access for the food we produce. That way, they will be genuinely helping to make food available to all across the globe and provide income for the farmer in Africa and the world for years to come.”

She described the government’s posture as passive and encouraged policymakers to show character and sovereign strength in saying "NO TO GMOs".

We are confronted with many Agriculture challenges. Key among them include market access, erratic rainfall pattern and high post-harvest losses. These challenges are not related to seeds, so why bother about GMO when we have not dealt with these challenges, Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, the Director of Programmes at PFAG has said.

“Will our Ghanaian Scientists inform our farmers that the popular pesticide they use has been found to be cancerous and that the manufacturers knew that all along and kept it a secret. Will they inform farmers that someone has a few months to live because he got cancer from using that pesticide – glysophate which is a GMO product?” asks Madam Adongo.