National Biosafety Authority board inaugurated

A 13-member board of directors to steer the affairs of the National Biosafety Authority has been inaugurated by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.

The National Biosafety Authority was the proposed body mandated by the Biosafety Act 2011 (Act 831), to oversee the regulation of biotechnology in Ghana and it would have the responsibility of making decisions on biosafety applications such as the development, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The governing board would perform the functions of financial, technical and staff management of the authority, coordination of activities of regulatory agencies and applicants, promotion of public education and participation and resolving of socio-economic issues regarding biotechnology and biosafety.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said that the inauguration “crowns sixteen years of unrelenting effort” by government to effect a transparent governing body for biotechnology in accordance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

He said that government sees great potential in modern biotechnology, hence its presence in the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy as one to be adopted for Ghana’s socio-economic development.

“On the other hand, government recognizes the potential adverse effects the technology could have on the environment and health of the people of Ghana and has therefore adopted the Biosafety Authority as the decision-making mechanism for the management of the technology”, He added.

The Minister also lauded the efforts of the National Biosafety Committee and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in developing a comprehensive road map for biosafety, training stakeholders and conducting field trials of genetically modified crops.

The newly inaugurated board has the immediate tasks of completing its office at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, determining fees for biosafety applications, establishing an Appeals Tribunal, establishing memorandum of understanding between the Authority and regulatory agencies and educating the public.

Dr. Christine Amoako-Nuama, a former minister of environment and chairman of the board expressed the hope that the board will live up to expectation: “I am sure that the varied expertise will be brought to bear on the functions of the board” she said. GNA

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