The Biotechnology and Biosafety Rapid Assessment and Policy Platform (BioRAPP) inaugurated its steering committee on the 21st of August, 2017 at the Miklin Hotel, Accra. In attendance were representatives of the Ministries of Finance (MOF), Trade and Industries (MOTI), Environment, Science and Technology and Innovations (MESTI) as well as from the Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI), ISSER, University of Ghana and Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen (GNAFF).
Beginning with the programme was an address by the Director for CSIR-STEPRI, Dr. George Owusu Essegbey who acknowledged the presence of the representative of MESTI, also the chief director of the ministry, Madam Salamata Abdul-Salaam as very important and a sign of the ministry’s immense support for the programme.
Dr. Essegbey stressed on the point that the BioRAPP which STEPRI was privileged to be hosting , was that kind of project that will lead to evidence-based into what is needed to be done in modern biotechnology and therefore hoped the programme for the day will convince all stakeholders present why they should be part as well as play well the roles they would be assigned to as members of the steering committee as well as other roles assigned as the project goes along and stated STEPRI’s commitment to make it a success.
The address was followed by Madam Abdul-Salaam reiterating the fact that the project was very dear to the country. She stated that though the country has the national biosafety authority, most Ghanaians were still not so clear in their minds what GMOs and effects of its consumption are but if this BioRAPP will be giving evidence for making decisions then the project Is very much needed as well as important.
Professor Walter Alhassan of Programme for biosafety systems (PBS) in giving the overview of the BioRAPP project which is an economic modelling tool for evidence-based policy reform on biotechnology and biosafety is being Implemented by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC through the Program for Biosafety s (PBS). PBS is hosted by IFPRI based in Washington DC and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for a period of 4 years awarded from November, 2015.
In summary Professor Alhassan iterated the rationale behind the BioRAPP as lack of access to technology including GM by many Ghanaians, GM technology R&D efforts on important African crops which are underway and not in the marketplace; enabling legislation to introduce GM crops into the country for commercial use by farmers; data and evidence case is not easily and quickly available for pipeline crops; and lack of local benefits case ,EU trade concerns and well-funded, anti-GM activism which affects political will and evidence-based policy development and expenditure.
Progress on Biotechnology & Biosafety Rapid Assessment in Ghana by Dr. Fred M. Dzanku a Research Fellow at ISSER, University of Ghana focusing on two crops: Maruca-resistant cowpea, Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient and Salt Tolerant rice (NEWEST rice) and also said that data collection such as that for ex ante analysis BioRAPP will need data on both the conventional and the BT crop.
Members of the steering committee include Dr. George Owusu Essegbey, Dr. Richard Ampadu- Ameyaw (CSIR_ STEPRI), Madam Salamata Abdul-Salaam, Dr Walter Alhassan, Papa Bartels (MOTI), John Dziwornu (GNAFF), Angela Dannson (MoFA), Eric Okoree (National Biosafety Authority) and Dr. Alhassan Iddrisu (MoF).