WEST AFRICA BIOSAFETYSTATUS: GHANA DETAILS Walter S. Alhassan FARA SABIMA Project Consultant UNN NSUKKA INT BIOTECH CENTER MEETING 7 FEBRUARY, 2013
WEST AFRICA BIOSAFETY LEGISLATION STATUS• Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Togo are the only countries in the sub-region that have biosafety legislation in place that can allow the handling of GM crops up to commercial release.• Nigeria has a cabinet approval for the handling of GM crops up to the confined field trial level• Nigeria law to allow commercial release passed in 2011 by its Senate. Presidential assent still pending. Only Burkina Faso is handling a GM crop (Bt cotton) at the commercial level in West Africa. This started in 2008.
GHANA BIOSAFETY LAW STATUS• Enabling laws available: LI 1887 and ACT 831.• LI 1887 (2007) allowed handling GM crops up to CFT level as substantive legislation was being developed. LI was based on an existing legislation for research in the CSIR. Act 521 of 1996. NBC processes applications.• Act 831 (2011). Comprehensive biosafety law. Will cover handling GM products up to an including commercial release. NBA will process applications. The LI is being drafted with assistance from ABNE and PBS.
GHANA BIOSAFETY LAW some historical antecedents.• 2003 Ghana ratified Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Public awareness, consultations held on biosafety and biotechnology. Guidelines and legislative framework developed.• 2004 Draft Bill submitted to the MEST. Lots of delay by government.• 2006 MEST dissolved. Ministry of Education Science and Sports created. LI 1887 created 2008 as interim. For CFTs.• 2008 General Elections• 2009 New Government. Bill process restarted.• 2011 Biosafety Law passed. Presidential assent.
SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GHANA LAW• User friendly.• No strict liability provisions. Contrast laws of some French speaking countries- BF, Togo, Mali.• Transitional provisions allows operation of the LI 1887 for CFT pending a new LI for the new law (Act 831) that covers all biosafety up to commercial release.
TIPS ON GHANA BIOSAFETY LEGISLATION COUNTRY EXPERIENCE• Learn from earlier biosafety legislations to improve own.• Need a champion to relentlessly pursue submissions to government.• Must continuously engage key players: civil society, media, farmer organisations, Ministers and parliament. Must prepare parliament for debate.
TIPS ON GHANA BIOSAFETY LEGISLATION COUNTRY EXPERIENCE• Must court key persons in government at all levels for support not forgetting farmer organisations and the media.• Financial and technical support from development partners crucial: UNEP-GEF, PBS, ABNE and FARA/SABIMA.
BIOSAFETY RESEARCHNeeded to provide evidence for biosafetyguidelines for risk assessment and management:• Gene flow• Effect on non-target organisms• Food safety- toxicity, allergenecity
WAY FORWARD• Beginners to learn from experience of others in biosafety management.• Harmonisation of biosafety legislation in the sub- region. Some challenges. Work with like-minded countries is a possible way out for now.• Biosafety research backing: gene flow to correct isolation distances, food safety (toxicity and allergenecity).• STRONG STEWARDSHIP CULTURE to back biosafety application.