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Ghanaians in the mix of GMO debate

(GIN) — Members of Food Sovereignty Ghana and other environmental groups took the issue of food security to the streets in a march through Accra that linked up virtually with seven African countries from South Africa to Kenya.

It was the second annual march against genetically modified seeds, bioengineered food and its corporate backers, coupled with the perceived risks to small farmers’ incomes and to health.

This month, activists in Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and South Africa came out in force. Activists in Accra carried signs saying, “GMO will make Ghanaian farmers poor” and “Our Food Under Our Control!”

Public opposition to GM crops has grown in recent years. Critics assert that DNA-altered crops require massive chemical inputs, which destroy local biodiversity and poison the water tables; create super-weeds; and cause organ damage, sterility, and diabetes and obesity in mammals. Nevertheless, Ghana’s government continues to lean toward GMOs and a field trial of GMO cow peas is currently underway.

Perhaps most important to African farmers, imported GM seeds are the intellectual property of the multinationals and cannot be saved for future use as is the practice of small farmers worldwide. Seed purchases every year versus the saving of seeds year to year are a heavy if not unsustainable burden on small farmers, warns Food Sovereignty Ghana. The “control of our resources by multinational corporations and other foreign entities,” must be avoided, FSG said on their Facebook page.

They cited a recent UN report, which noted hunger is not caused by a food shortage, but by “a lack of purchasing power and/or the inability of the rural poor to be self-sufficient.”

“The engagement in the market was very surprising and drew a lot of curiosity,” said Ras Aswad Nkrabea, the group’s director of mobilization. “It resulted in us being invited to meet with the market queens (traders who buy from farmers and then distribute their produce) in the near future to make sure they are well informed about these issues.”

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