Developing countries urged to adopt GMOs for food security

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Dr Rich Roberts, former Chief Scientific Officer, New England Biolabs, Massachusetts – USA has urged developing countries to adopt Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for food security. 

To him, genetically modified plants, which have had their genetic makeup modified in a laboratory, typically using high-tech genetic engineering, unlike occurring in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods, should be the way to go for improved yields to feed populations in a sustainable way.

Dr Roberts said this while presenting on the topic, Biomedical Science for community development at a roundtable discussion organised by Sena Institute of Technology (SIT), Penyi, a research ecosystem for studying interactions between plants, aquatic and human interactions on the theme, “Biomedical Research: A Resource for Community Development.”

The 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine stressed the need to ignore anti-GMO arguments which had no basis in science yet deliberately being put out mostly by Europeans to discourage countries in Africa and South America for example, from adopting the technology saying, “GM technology is safe.”

“Biotechnology is the technology to shape the future. Anti-GMO activists only talk about how dangerous the technology could be and never how helpful it could be.

But GM crops have the most human health and environmental benefits. They’re pest/insect resistant, make better yields and require fewer environmental resources like water and fertilizer.”

GM technology is safe just as traditional breeding, if not safer. For instance, the Bt-toxin (produced from soil-dwelling bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis) gene that is placed in plants like corn and potatoes are the same that organic farmers use for their crops. For over 25 years, there is zero evidence that GMO foods are harmful to human health.”

The roundtable discussion brought together traditional leaders, officials from the Ketu North and South Municipal Directorates of Education and Health, representatives from tertiary and second cycle institutions, students and Penyi citizens to share their roles and initiatives in developing the community.

Torgbuiga Dadzie IV, Paramount Chief of Penyi said the Traditional Council played a key role in ensuring peace, moved to stop sand winning in the area, worked towards rice production initiative that would benefit Penyi and the larger society and collaborating to stop problems being posed by the presence of Fulani herdsmen.

Mamaga Hoeflewo II, Paramount Queen, Penyi said because her roles catered for women and youth, she was working on a proposal for a project, Integrated Agriculture, Aquaculture and Processing, aimed at empowering women and youth and the larger community economically using precision technology.

Representative of Dr Felix Mawuli Kamassah, Managing Director, Maphlix Trust Ghana Limited and Penyi citizen said Maphlix had been involved in development projects in communities in Ketu North and supporting needy but brilliant students as part of its corporate social responsibility programmes.

Madam Bless Apetorgbor, who represented the Volta Regional Education Director said government recognised education as the key driver of sustainable growth and societal development, hence, initiated policies and programmes like free compulsory pre-tertiary education and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative.

She asked for stakeholders’ unwavering support and commitment for Ghana’s thriving and equitable future.

Dr Andrews Kwasi Agbleke, President, SIT in an interview with Ghana News Agency said the Institute was established in Ghana in May 2016 as a non-profit research institute to bring seasoned and young researchers across the globe to work together for a common purpose of building research capacity in Africa.

He said the Institute had among others been undertaking research towards maintaining a sustainable agriculture in Volta, Ghana and across Africa.

By Ewoenam Kpodo, GNA

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