By Kofi Thompson
Included in Ghana’s Parliament’s parliamentary business statement for the second week ending Friday, 14, November, 2014, is the controversial Plant Breeders Bill.
No bill has been laid before any Parliament, thus far, since Ghana gained its independence from Britain in 1957, which could have graver consequences for the future of the Ghanaian economy’s agricultural sector – were Parliament to make the mistake of passing that confounded bill as it currently stands.
In the light of recent events in Burkina Faso, under no circumstances must Ghana’s MPs sacrifice the national interest in this instance. The pursuit of self-interest – induced by the ‘benevolence’ of carpetbagger-lobbyists working for vested interests – at such times can be counter-productive. And, extremely dangerous.
As the NGO Food Sovereignty Ghana, and a host of concerned individuals and civil society organisations have suggested, Parliament must amend Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill to read thus: “23 Measures regulating commerce.
A plant breeder right shall be subject to any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material.” What is so difficult about doing so, I ask?
Future generations of our people will applaud Ghana’s MPs for making that eleventh-hour change to Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill as it currently stands – before passing it into law.
The right of the Republic to regulate every human activity that has the potential to have an impact on public health in Ghana ought to be non-negotiable – as the emergency measures needed to deal with the outbreak of the Ebola fever virus elsewhere have shown so clearly. Who ever thought there would ever be an Ebola outbreak of such apocalyptic proportions in west Africa?
That is why it is so important that Ghana’s Parliamentarians do not take the business-as-usual approach in dealing with the Plant Breeders Bill – and accede to the wishes of selfish lobbyists by surrendering the power of the Republic to regulate the activities of plant breeders (including foreign seed-producing multinationals) within the sovereign territory of Ghana.
Having seen the destructive power of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus, no Ghanaian who is a patriot and cares about the welfare of Ghanaians, should contemplate removing the power to regulate all activities inside our nation’s borders that have the potential to impact public health negatively – including that of plant breeders – from the Republic.
For that reason, Ghana’s Parliament must reject Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill, as it currently stands. They must not let Ghanaians down this time. We have had enough of perfidious elites who are conscience-sellers always selling Mother Ghana short.
If our ruling elites want to know the real nature of the rapacious foreign multinational companies they are always so eager to bend over backwards to assist, let them google and read the UK newspaper, the Guardian’s, online edition of 15th September, 2009 – and digest the article entitled, “How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster”, written by David Leigh.
It is interesting and instructive that that genius currently in charge of the Ghana National Petroleum Company is today hobnobbing with Trafigura. “Oh Ghana – what have Ghanaians done to deserve such genuises as leaders?”, to quote an old wag I know.
Incidentally, if Trafigura ever wants to takeover the Tema Oil Refinery and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company, the government must demand at least US$10 billions for the two companies. Nothing less will do – for that is the intrinsic value of their incredibly valuable physical assets.
One hopes that all Ghana’s MPs, and every patriotic Ghanaian who is also a nationalist, will google and read that horrific Guardian article about Trafigura – and understand just how ruthless the foreign multinationals our leaders fawn over so, really are.