March Against Monsanto – Massive Anti-GMO Protest Rocks Accra
“We are calling on the Ghanaian government to place a moratorium on GMOs until independent scientific study proves them wholesome for human consumption”
Accra, Ghana– As part of a worldwide campaign against Genetically Modified (GM) Foods dubbed ‘March Against Monsanto’, the Ghanaian pressure group Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) in collaboration with the Coalition of Farmers Against Genetically Modified Organisms (COFAM) yesterday organized a protest march in Accra to drum home their unfazed opposition to the introduction of GMOs into the country’s mainstream food chain as well as the passing of the Plant Breeders Bill currently before parliament.
Hundreds of protestors started the march from the city center and ended at the Mallam Atta Market where they spoke to traders and foodstuff vendors to draw their attention to the issue of GM foods potentially infiltrating and taking over the country’s food supply chain.
In accordance with a traditional ban on noisemaking, as part of the preparations for the annual ‘Homowo Festival’ of the people of Accra however, the march was conducted in silence with protestors wielding placards bearing their messages.
Speaking to the Press, Communications Lead of Food Sovereignty Ghana, Mr. Jason Tutu explained that, the March Against Monsanto protest is a global call to action aimed at informing the public, calling into question long-term health risks of genetically modified foods and demanding that GMO products be labeled so that consumers can make informed choices. He however specified that in the case of Ghana, it is preferable that GMOs are not introduced at all to necessitate labeling.
“We are calling on the Ghanaian government to place a moratorium on GMOs until independent scientific study proves them wholesome for human consumption”, he said.
He recounted the many dangers GMOs present including a myriad of diseases ranging from organ failure to low sperm count as well as the deficit it is likely to bring Ghanaian farmers – and by extension the populace- if parliament endorses the Plant Breeders Bill. He said this is why it has become necessary to educate Ghanaians before parliament passes the bill on the blind side of Ghanaians. Substantiating his claim, Mr. Tutu cited several examples in India where GM seeds have failed farmers leading to a wave of suicides among cotton farmers.
He further hinted that the march is happening simultaneously in over 400 cities in 52 countries across the globe. The Accra march was attended by people from all over Ghana and even from the Ivory Coast, he said.
Even though the date for the protest was determined globally, Mr. Tutu said it was timely as well since parliament which is currently on recess resumes in a few days time and one of the items on their agenda is to pass the Plant Breeders’ Bill. He said the protest will send a message to the legislators not to endorse the bill which he believes will prepare the grounds for Monsanto to take over the country’s food security. “…this demonstration is our way of telling parliament we are vigilant , and we’ll make it difficult for them to pass the PBB’’.
Representative of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Mr. Charles Nyaaba, also said the farmers of Ghana are against the use of genetic engineering, not only because it threatens their livelihoods but also because of all the health implications associated with them. He added that ‘’GMO products are different from our traditional products, meaning, we are losing our cultural heritage’’. Representatives of other organizations including the Coalition for Ghana’s Independence Now,
and Earth Replenishers Foundation also offered their views on the subject. They collectively asked government to follow the examples of France and other western countries to ban GMOs and rather improve storage facilities and infrastructure to prevent the annual food glut that bedevils the country.
‘’We don’t need Monsanto, we don’t need GMO’s-because we can farm ourselves’’, they said.