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Dr Richard Ampadu Ameya
Dr Richard Ampadu Ameya

Don’t confuse Plant Breeders Bill with Biotechnology- Ghanaians advised

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




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