They said the bill did not recognise the rights of indigenous seed growers and local farmers, the right to plant and replant seeds, the right to save seeds and the right to market and share seeds.
A release issued to the media and signed by the National President of the PFAG, Abdul Rahman Mohammed, stated that the bill was only protecting the interest of foreign merchants and corporations, as they are the only ones who can produce seeds that are (a) new, (b) distinct; (c) uniform; and (d) stable, as stated in Clause 3 of the bill.
The smallholder farmers accused the minister for food and agriculture and some members of the vetting committee of Parliament of misinforming Ghanaians about the true implication of the PBB to agricultural development in the country.
“What is even sadder is that he managed to convince members of the committee that Food Sovereignty Ghana, a civil society organisation, did not actually know what they were about when they petitioned the committee not to approve the minister designate. PFAG would like to put on record that the campaign against the passing of the PBB in its current form and the campaign against the introduction of GMOs are separate and distinct,” it said.
They explained that the campaign against the PBB began in 2013 and after thorough analysis of the bill, they identified what they described as serious negative implications to Ghanaian smallholder farmers should it become law.
The PFAG mentioned that the bill, among other issues, insulates in a very blanket manner, foreign breeders from any liability in Ghana, such that no law within Ghana can regulate their activities in the event of risk to environment and human health etc.
According to Clause 23 of the bill, “A plant breeder right shall be independent of any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.”
Also, it allows foreign breeders to grow any seeds in any part of the world once Ghana is a party to that country and dump them in Ghana as long as they have their registered office in Ghana.
Clause 9 (2) also explains: “An application for the grant of a plant breeder right may be filed by the breeder of a new variety who is: (a) a citizen or who is resident in the country; (b) a foreign citizen or a resident in the territory of a party to a treaty to which the Republic is party (c) a legal entity that has its registered office within the territory of a party to a treaty to which the Republic is party; or (d) a legal entity that has its registered office in the country.
The PFAG said as Ghana aspired to modernise agriculture to create jobs for Ghanaians as stated by President Akufo Addo, the PBB should rather mandate the breeders to produce their seeds in Ghana.
Minister at vetting
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in response to a petition by the Food Sovereignty Ghana when he appeared before the Appointment Committee of Parliament, said he did not support the adoption of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology in Ghana's food production.
He said since Ghana had its own way of bringing up improved seeds, including scientists who have developed improved seeds through the use of the hybrid technology, it would boost their production.