Friday, November 23, 2007

Ghana’s “experts” speculate Burkina Faso imports GM tomatoes

Ghanaian agriculture experts speculate that imported tomatoes from Burkina Faso are genetically modified, says Accra’s Statesman.

They claimed that since farmers in Burkina Faso had continuously engaged in the production of genetically modified cotton and succeeded in accumulating wealth, they suspect the success of mass tomato production in the West African country could be as a result of the application of the GM seedlings.

At a news conference held in Accra on Tuesday by the peasant Farmers Association of Ghana experts informed that the country has for the past years been importing large tones of tomatoes from Burkina Faso and the trend has resulted in a decline in tomato production in the country.

The removal of subsidies on farm activities in Ghana and the commitment of the Burkinabe government's activities towards farm subsidization have created the large gap between the two countries.

John Dziwornu, National coordinator of Ghana national association of farmers and fishermen in an interaction with the statesman after the news conference said neither the Food and Drugs Board nor the newly established Bio safety committee of the Ghana Atomic Energy commission had the needed apparatus to determine whether a product contained genetically modified food. In that regard Ghanaians could be at risk of food contamination and promote obesity.

It sounds like these "experts" were no other than members of Ghanaian farming associations who offered little proof to their claims.

In 2003, Burkina Faso became the first third African country (after South Africa and Egypt) to test genetically modified cotton, Agence France Press reported in May. Burkina Faso is Africa’s largest cotton producer, and Sofitex, which controls roughly 85 percent of the country's cotton market, says it will not be ready to produce genetically modified cotton until 2009.

From my viewpoint, I’ll say that opposition to GM crops remains strong in Burkina Faso and many hurdles remain before farmers grow these crops.

I’ll also say that this announcement sounds like the first blast in an upcoming trade dispute between the two countries. If so, a quarrel of this sort would harm both nations.

According to the World Trade Organization, agriculture products make up the majority of Burkina Faso’s exports. While a good portion of this is cotton, Burkina Faso does have a large tomato industry and tomato trucks are often seen traveling towards Ghana. Ghana receives 60 percent of all Burkina Faso’s exports, far outpacing the European Union, the second largest destination with 15 percent.

By receiving 12 percent of Ghana’s exports, Burkina Faso is the third most popular destination for Ghanaian goods. One can often find tomato paste containers from Ghana in the local markets.

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