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Regional News of Friday, 31 October 2014

Source: GNA

MPs visit biotech Cotton field

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Some Members of Parliament of the Select Committees on Food and Agriculture, the Environment and Trade have visited a Bt Cotton confined field trial site at Nyankpala to acquaint themselves with the scientific technology.

The visit, which took place on Wednesday, was facilitated by the Programme for Biosafety Systems, Ghana, an advocacy group on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The Bt Cotton confined field trial is a project of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR – SARI), forming part of the general scientific research towards the introduction of GMOs and biotechnology products in the country.

GMOs are formed when genes (hereditary materials) are moved artificially from one species to another, which is said to produce improved varieties.

Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in-charge of Crops, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said scientific evolution had come to stay and the country could not afford to be left behind hence the research into GMOs and biotechnology products.

Dr Alhassan said GMOs would not replace the conventional ways of agricultural production, explaining that farmers would still have the choice to either adopt the new system (GMOs) or rely on the conventional system.

He discussed the Plant Breeders Bill, saying it might be passed into law when Parliament reconvened.

Dr Emmanuel Chamba, Principal Investigator at CSIR – SARI, who is undertaking the Bt Cotton research, urged the government to establish an effective body to regulate the cotton industry.

Dr Chamba said this would improve cotton production as the country was currently producing a little over 5,000 hectares compared to over 10,000 hectares in the previous years.

Dr Stephen Nutsugah, Director of CSIR – SARI, said the institution would continue to undertake research to come out with technologies and varieties that would help to improve agricultural productivity to ensure food security.

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