News Column

Journalists must effectively report on science issues - Director

August 18, 2014

Professor Walter Alhassan

Kumasi,  Aug. 17, GNA - Professor  Walter Alhassan, Former  Director General of the Centre for Scientific  and Industrial Research (CSIR),  has appealed to the public to disabuse their minds of the notion that Genetically  Modified  Organic  (GMO) foods  have  health implications.

He said most developed countries had, over 10 years, used GMO foods without any risk or problems.

Professor Alhassan made the appeal when he spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at the end of a three-day training workshop organised for 26 Journalists in the northern sector in Kumasi.

It was organised by the Programme for Bio-Safety Systems in conjunction with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agro-Biotech Application Afri- Centre, and the African Bio-Safety Network Expertise.

Topics treated at the workshop to training journalists on Biotechnology, Bio-safety and GMO foods in Ghana, were Safety of Genetic Modified Food and Feed, Biotechnology Regulations in Ghana, Misconceptions about the Plant Breeders Right Bill and, Biotechnology and Genetic Modification.

Prof. Alhassan said GMO foods were safe after going through the regulatory system and not only for exports but for local consumption.

He cited some corn flakes and soya cooking oil on the Ghanaian market being patronised by consumers but there had not been any report of adverse effects.

He called on the media, especially the electronic media, to scrutinise their panelists in order not to throw dust into the eyes of their audience with false information on GMO foods.

Prof Alhassan called on the public to endeavour to seek information from experts for better explanation and understanding of issues on bio-technology and GMO foods. 

He said it was a burden on farmers to accept this enviable technology into their farming methods because they had been fed with wrong information that they could not replant the seeds.

Prof. Alhassan said even with the local seeds after replanting for three consecutive periods, using the same seed would not produce the desired yield even though it would germinate.

He said it was not true that the new seed could not be replanted but rather the production would be low.

Professor Alhassan said development of new crop variety for specific needs of the country would increase agricultural productivity since the seeds were pest resistant and developed to adapt to the local environment in the face of climate change and variability.

Mrs Linda Asante–Agyei, a Health Journalist, urged media personnel to write accurate and balanced stories on science issues and refrain from misquoting scientists.

She said some scientists were not prepared to provide information to journalists because they perceived some journalists as not well trained and unable to research on vital scientific issues.

Mrs Asante-Agyei, also the Treasurer of the Ghana Journalists Association, called on journalists to develop interest in science and technology issues as they are professionally mandated to effectively report to educate the public.



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Source: Ghana News Agency

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