Science has surrounded us with enough tribute to the fantastic service it has rendered mankind so far.
Not only has science given us electricity, but it has also given us modern transportation systems and amazing telecommunication technologies, not to mention advances in medicine and space exploration among a host of wonders too numerous to enumerate here! But science has a treacherous side-symptomatic of the overall state of affairs on this planet earth.
The question is should mankind buy into the idea of GMOs?
GMOs AND NON-GMOs
Mr. Eric Amaning Okoree, the Chief Executive Officer of National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has emphatically stated that, genetically modified (GM) crops have high potential of controlling fall armyworms.
Speaking to him in an exclusive interview after a media training on biotechnology and Biosafety in Accra, dubbed: ”Putting Ghana’s Cocoa Sector on a Firmer Footing-what should be done differently?” which was organised by the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) in collaboration with Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and funded by UTZ, he emphasised that, fall armyworms could not attack all plants, thus some plants have natural resistance, whereas others like maize and other crops that could not withstand the army worm, needed to be genetically modified.
He therefore added that, the modern biotechnology system allows scientists and researchers to transfer genes from plants that have natural resistance through genetic engineering and then insert it to maize which implies that, it would be genetically modified. That means that, the maize would then have natural resistance inbuilt to resist the fall army worm.
Considering critically about how this biotechnology system works and its possibility in the country, Mr. Amaning, indicated that, the technology is not yet available in the country. However, Ghana needs to adopt this technology and backed by enough funding, as scientists and researchers would need adequate funds trying to transfer genes from the natural source.
Therefore, the objective of NBA, he said was to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of safe development transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms from biotechnology that may have adverse effect on health and environment.
Engaging Professor Kenneth Ellis Danso, Director at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, to throw more light on this GM issue, explained that, plant biotechnology involves the modification of the generic material of the plant with the aim of developing or improving one or more characteristics in the organism.
Adding that, the prospects for adopting modern methods of improving crops in Ghana would ensure food security, higher economic benefits and mitigation against climate change, these are all possible advantages to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which Ghana is a signatory.
To him, in spite of all the misconceptions in the country, GM crops stands out as the most extensive crops ever added to our food supply.
Fining out from Dr. Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, the National Coordinator for OFAB, with respect to the implications of GMOs and Non-GMOs, he said there were no nutritional differences between genetically modofied organisms (GMOs) and their Non-GMO counterparts, hitherto the nutritional content of the GM crop had been intentionally modified.
Nonetheless, there is a struggle for position of dominance in the ecosystem between the GM and Non-GM crops, to ensure the winner-takes-all syndrome.
Dr. Ampadu-Ameyaw however, concretized his assertions by saying that, “Studies shows that GM crops pose no risk to the environment, but rather help to reduce agriculture’s impact on human health and the environment.”
Also speaking to Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr, the Senior pastor, 7th Day Pentecostal Assembly at Esreso in Kumasi, who belongs to the Anti-GMO side, he said strongly that, in a sense, science has become our modern embodiment of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and our purpose here is to show you how scientists have genetically altered our diets from the natural, healthful foods God created them into something dreadful.”
“we are not conspiracy theorists crying wolf where there’s no wolf. Neither are we some cave dwelling extremists railing against scientific advancement, we are ordinary people, God’s children and citizens of the scientific modern world, who are curious to know the new food biotechnology is cooking for us and putting on our tables,” he said.
According to him, “our curiosity and diligent search has unearthed a mountain of data, damning evidence which clearly convinces us that, we cannot trust biotechnology to be our intrusive ubiquitous cook.”
EFFECTS OF GMOs
According to Elder Ofori, GM foods created in the laboratory and mass produced for mass consumption, poses a wide range of threats not only to our health, but also to the national economy, national food sovereignty, local agriculture and even faith-based food biases.
He said, GM opens a Pandora’s box of consumer rights versus the corporate national interest goals of some Western governments, farmer rights versus transnational agribusiness’ profiteering agenda, health issues versus population downsizing.
Explaining that, “It’s a box of ethical dilemmas and a downright economic survival issue. We shudder to imagine the kind of future a GMO dominated developing economy like Ghana might be. It’s a scary future, a future we invite you to have a sneak preview of and see inside of the box! Hopefully, we will be alerted to scrutinize our food purchases more closely and make the right choices in favour of our health.”
Elder Enoch Ofori emphatically said, “We know what we are up against, vested interests and mighty forces in business and government, but the force of truth is always mightier in the long run. (Prov. 12:19; 2 Cor. 13:8).”