Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has urged members of the Appeals Tribunal Committee of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to execute their task with fairness and due diligence.
He said the Committee would play a crucial role in the implementation of the National Biosafety Act, which considers public concerns on health and environmental matters as priority and, therefore, entreated them to ensure transparency and efficiency in its implementation.
He also charged the general public and all stakeholders to co-operate with the members of the Tribunal in the execution of their work since it would provide them the opportunity to express their grievances and concerns regarding the introduction of any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the environment.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng gave the advice when he swore-in a five-member Appeals Tribunal Committee of the NBA in Accra, on Friday.
The Committee was entrusted with the responsibility of handling public concerns and grievances regarding decisions and processes with respect to the implementation of the Act.
It was also to ensure judicious use of biotechnology which had a good prospect for the country and in the production of healthy crops for humans and livestock.
The Committee comprising Professor Samuel Kwame Offei, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, as Chairman, Dr. Ir. Peter Twumasi, a Senior Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, member, Mrs Grace Ama Issahaque, a Principal Attorney at the Ministry of Justice and Registrar General’s Department, member, Professor Albert Kojo Quainoo, Vice Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University for Development Studies, member, and Mrs Dinah Brandful, a former Assistant Commissioner and Head of the Ghana Customs Laboratory and currently with the Ghana Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, member.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng noted that the establishment of the Tribunal provides a platform for conflict resolution regarding the implementation of the Act and, therefore, indicated that persons who were aggrieved by the decision of the Tribunal, may within 30 days of the decision, appeal to the High Court for redress.
Madam Salimata Abdul-Salam, the Chief Director of MESTI, in her welcome address, said the inauguration of the Tribunal was a step towards the implementation of the Biosafety Act and urged all stakeholders to co-operate with them to ensure efficiency in their work.
Mr Eric Okore, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority, assured the public that the Authority would engage with non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations to listen to their concerns regarding GMOs.
He, however, entreated individuals and institutions that had concerns regarding the use of GMOs to provide scientific proof instead of spreading propaganda or half-truth about their usage.
The CEO of the NBA said it would intensify awareness creation on its activities through radio talk shows to enhance public understanding of biosafety technology and products produced from GMOs.
Prof. Samuel Kwame Offei, the Chairman of the Tribunal, said the application of GMOs could be abused and assured that the Committee would ensure efficient utilisation of biosafety technology in the country to safeguard the health and safety of the public.
The National Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831) and the National Biosafety Regulation gave birth to the National Biosafety Framework, which provided guidelines on policy, legal, administrative and technical instruments that is set in place to address safety for the environment, human and animal health in the context of modern biotechnology.