Editorial: GMO products have to be properly labelled for consumer choice


It is a welcome relief to hear the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) categorically deny the commercialisation of certain genetically modified organisms like maize, soy or even perhaps, tomatoes in our food chain.

The clarification comes amid concerns expressed by a number of interest groups like the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), aggregators and some civils society organisations.

News went viral of the registration and approval of 14 maize and soy bean products by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) under the Biosafety Act, 2011 (831).

In a rebuttal, MoFA has not, through its National Variety Release and Registration Committee of the National Seed Council, approved the commercialisation of the maize and soya products approved by the NBA.

MoFA further stated that the released products should not be used as seeds in Ghana, and reiterated its commitment to monitoring the use of these products in the country. Meanwhile, the NBA has also denied granting approval for the seeds of 14 GMO products to be cultivated. Rather, it clarifies it registered 14 GMO products to be imported into the country.

NBA clarifies that the approval of the GMO products is not also for cultivation but for purposes of food, feed or processing. That appears to be the confusion here since we are led to believe GMO seeds are non-regenerative, so cultivating wouldn’t serve much purpose.

To admit that the imported GMO varieties will be used for food is even more the issue and the principal reasons why the interest groups are raising concern. GMO products displayed in supermarkets and retail outlets must be properly labelled to give the consumer the right of choice.

It would be illegal to display such products in retail outlets without giving the consumer prior information to either choose to patron GM products or not by bold labelling indicating the source of the product.

The issue of GMO products has been a controversial one with opinions swayed either for or against it and therefore, remains the prerogative of the consumer to decide to patronise it or not. We, therefore, surmise by the statement by MoFA that there will be proper market surveillance to ensure these products are not inadvertently smuggled into our food chain.

The consumer has the right of information and choice.

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