Sunday, 19 November 2017
US Embassy schools women on biotechnology for agricultural dev.

US Embassy schools women on biotechnology for agricultural dev.

By Kenneth O. ADADE, Accra
The United States of America Embassy in Ghana has schooled about 70 women on the potential of biotechnology as a key innovation for agricultural development in Ghana.

The participants were drawn from the various scientific and research institutions in Ghana, as well as relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Government of Ghana that focus on agriculture and biotechnology issues.
Addressing the participants, the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, Melinda Tabler-Stonne, said the US considers empowering women as a key way for developing countries.
She said in this advanced 21st century, there was the need to acknowledge the important roles women play in nation building; therefore, there was the need to support them.
She also said agriculture is the backbone of any country’s development, and commended President Akufo-Addo on his agricultural policies for Ghana’s development.
Madam Tabler-Stonne also mentioned that farmers are challenged with low productivity, soils, change in rain patterns and much more, but real transformation comes with new approach and innovations.
She said the use of science and biotechnology can be a valuable tool because agricultural biotechnology has greatly improved crop efficiency and productivity.
Associate Professor at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Marian Quain explained that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is a product of more precise breeding that enables them to take a trait found in nature and transfer it to another plant.
She said the health and safety nature of GMO have been validated by many scientists and independent organisations globally, adding that in 2016, the National Academies of Science in US reviewed over 900 studies and 20 years of data, and reconfirmed GMOs are safe to eat.
She added that GMOs are needed for plants to fight disease, reduce food waste, and protect the environment.
She noted that GM crops can be beneficial for farmers and the environment and also increase productivity, which in turn reduces market prices and makes products more accessible for consumers.
She said, so far, many interesting GM technologies being tested in the field are drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant maize, rice and wheat, and explained that maize and rice with higher nitrogen use efficiency, micronutrient-rich rice, sorghum, cassava, and banana, and pest- and disease-resistant rice, cassava, pulses, and vegetables.
Participants were also taken through topics like biosafety and risk communication, as well as the state of biotechnology in Ghana.

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