Farmers and civil society organizations have been advised not to confuse the Plant Breeder’s Bill with the new Science known as Biotechnology as these two are not entirely related.
According to Dr Richard Ampadu –Ameyaw of the Science and Technology Research Institute at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, time is now for Ghanaians particularly those who are confusing the two issues to get a better understanding to avoid a perpetual confusion.
Speaking to Public Agenda in an interview recently, Dr Ampadu- Ameyaw explained that the Plant Breeders’ Bill is not different from the Intellectual Property Right (IPR) which is being used in the music and other industries.
Dr Ampadu- Ameyaw added, “First and foremost what we all have to understand is that the Plant Breeders Bill is nothing different from Intellectual Property Right (IPR), musicians have it, designers have it and almost everybody who is coming up with something different has it. So in this case we are looking for the scientists who are also developing these technologies.
According to him, the Bill seek to ensure that there is a continuous churning out of technolology which will in the end inure to the the benefit of all including the scientists.
He pointed out that in the development of such technologies, the scientist may need money to do a kind of reinvestment and some countries where government provides everything, the system will go on because once you develop the system, the product becomes a social product and goes out for free.
However, he added, “in our part of the world where investment into science and technology are a bit limited, there is the need to motivate or encourage the scientist for his work so you need some recognition and that is why you need to pay a kind of royalty that will motivate the scientist.”
Public Agenda’s interview with the Dr followed a publication on Graphic.com which stated that the Parliamentary committee on environment Science Technology had recommended to Parliament to reintroduce and pass the Plant Breeders Bill.
The Plant Breeders Bill was put before Parliament in 2013, went through the first and second consideration stages but was put on hold at the third stages when some civil society groups raised concerns that the passage of the bill would lead to the imposition Genetically modified organisms into the food chain in Ghana.
The civil society groups argued that the introduction of GMO would lead to commercial exploit of poor farmers and could create a perpetual dependency syndrome and therefore urged Parliament to defer debate on the bill to allow Public consultation to be undertaken.
Dispelling the above argument Dr Ampadu- Ameyaw counter argued that, “The noise, because there is a new science called biotechnology, that is what has created the problem for civil society. People try to merge the two – the Biotechnology and the Plant Breeders Bill in actual fact they are two separate things. The Plant Breeder Bill seeks to project scientist to encourage or motivate them to develop more of these technologies to improve society.
“While the biotechnology is a new science which I must say that, there are other scientists who are even confused. And we are all trying to understand what it is. So the civil society like I said because they have boxed these two together, the idea is that there is noise all over the world that biotechnology is not good because it has environmental issues and health issues. People are not taking time to understand what it is all about.”
He continued, “So if you fall into that category where they are pushing the agenda that it has environmental issues, it has safety issues and all that and therefore we cannot consume it or it will take away the dignity or whatever of farmers, You will always have problems. So we are saying that if you box these two together and you pass the plant breeders bill it means that it will go with the biotechnology which means that what they are saying should not be done.”
He insisted that the confusion stems from the fact that, “people are not ready to sit down to understand what the new science is about, what we would achieve by coming out with the new science.”
By Mohammed Suleman