SAMIA WRITES TO THE SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has moved to demonstrate further its commitment to safeguardGhana’s food supply and to protect the interest of Ghana’s Farmers.
In an unprecedented move the Leader of the Party Hon. Samia Yaba Nkrumah has written to the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho, stating the Party’s case for rejecting the Plant Breeders Bill which has been brought back to Parliament after an earlier withdrawal by the Speaker for further consultation.
Samia Nkrumah applauds the Speaker’s earlier ruling that withdrew the Plant Breeders’ Bill from Parliament for further consultation, but notes to Mr Adjaho that “Unfortunately, the amendments currently before the house do not take into consideration some of the important amendments proposed by various petitioners some of whom appeared before the Legal and Constitutional committee of Parliament earlier in the year”
She stated further that “Research has shown that African countries are coming under pressure to introduce and pass first laws that allow the introduction of genetically modified organisms into our countries such asGhana’s Biosafety Act (2011), and second, laws protecting the intellectual property rights of breeders of new and distinct plant varieties such as the Plant Breeders’ Bill currently before Parliament”
The CPP Chair points out that “the danger in passing the Plant Breeders’ Bill is that once passed, in its current form, it will be impossible to renegotiate those terms included in it that relate to stricter intellectual property rights under the WTO’s irreversible commitments.”
That the breeders, whose property rights and therefore their income will be protected by the Plant Breeders’ Bill, do not have to be based in Ghana but they can register their variety of seed in the country and unbeknown to us this variety could even be a slightly altered existing Ghanaian variety.
“Our farmers will nevertheless be criminalized if they attempt to refine a protected variety to suit their need. Once they start using the patented seeds, they will be compelled to pay for them every time at each planting season. In effect, our local plant breeding practice of freely saving, and sharing seed will be outlawed and eventually eliminated.” Samia wrote.
Her letter also states that “In countries with similar laws seed prices have risen and they have lost much of their rich diversity of seeds.
With the passage of the bill, our farmers will find it difficult to compete with the foreign breeders or their agents in Ghana. This has happened in other countries some of which have since had to impose a moratorium on previously passed breeders’ laws. Their experience has shown that we need to protect Ghanaian farmers by including anti-monopoly provisions within the Plant Breeders’ Bill.
Equally importantly, the Biosafety Act should be revised. It has allowed for the introduction of GMOs intoGhana. Without consensus about the safety of GMOs it is premature for us to allow their usage particularly without a Biosafety Authority is in place. One other dangerous consequence of the passage of the Plant Breeders’ Bill is that it will preclude a review the Biosafety Act”.
Samia Nkrumah ends her letter with a plea to the Speaker that “Ghana’s sovereignty must be protected and our Parliament must do its duty in this regard. We are looking to you again to ensure that the right thing is done in the interest of this great nation of ours and its Chiefs and peoples.
We are appealing to you once again to withdraw the Plant Breeder’s Bill from Parliament until amendments are made to ensure that our farmers are the first breeders and foreign corporations are not above our national laws.
Mr. Speaker Ghana needs you. Ghana waits on you. Ghana looks to you to safeguard our collective interest”
The Party can only hope that the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament will act in the interest of our
Nii Armah Akomfrah
CPP Director of Communication