Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are appealing to President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo not to sign the Plant Variety Protection Bill to make it a law in order to save Ghanaians from impending danger.
According to the CSOs, the recently approved Bill, which is under the International Union for the protection of new varieties of plants (UPOV) is inimical to smallholder farmers and undermines farmers’ right. The organizations argue that the Bill will undermine Ghana’s sovereignty and violate the Ghanaian value system by placing the rights of large corporations of commercial plant breeders over that of farmers thus a threat to Ghana’s private seed breeders. The CSOs explain that the government has given no justified reason why Ghana has opted for the highly inflexible UPOV 91 instead of seeking to build a sui generis system of plant protection as stipulated by the World Trade Organization agreement.
“The President must in the spirit of transparency and good governance allow for a truly open stakeholder engagement and consultation to ensure that the serious concerns of a great constituency of Ghanaian citizens as represented by the stakeholders mentioned above may be considered in arriving at a plant variety protection regime that is good for Ghana’s farmers as well as plant breeders be they local or foreign,” the CSOs expressed in a statement released in Accra on 9th November, 2020.
On 4th November, Parliament passed the Plant Variety Protection Bill which seeks to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in Ghana. But the CSOs are “highly displeased with the lack of consultation and the lack of transparency around the whole bill,” and asked that “the greatest pressure must be mounted by all Ghanaians to stop the signing into law of this obnoxious bill.”
The CSOs have, therefore, outlined a line of actions to pressurize the government to make a farmer-, consumer- and environment-friendly law. These actions are massive social media campaigns, online petitions, press conferences, and protests across major Ghanaian cities and towns.
“We believe the President will act in the best interest of millions of Ghana’s farmers and their dependent households and call for further consultation,” they said.
Led by Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), the CSOs which have been at the forefront of the struggle against previous harmful GMOs Bills since 2013, include the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), Catholic Bishops’ Conference Secretariat and Ghana Muslim Mission.
The others are the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Vegetarian Association of Ghana, Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana (VEGSOG), Rastafarians Council of Ghana and the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition.
“We are calling on all progressive individuals and organizations to join in the advocacy to prevent the President of Ghana from signing this Bill into a law”
“The criminalization of farmers under Clause 58 of the Bill goes contrary to the spirit of the Nagoya Protocol which obligates Ghana to protect the rights of Farmers to exchange, save and sell seeds. Without a benefit sharing scheme in place, there is no compensation for communities who developed these seeds over centuries. The fact that under the Bill there is no obligation by a plant breeder to disclose the source of germ plasm used in the development of the seed, this will encourage biopiracy of Ghana’s biodiversity,” the CSOs noted.
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