Court adjourns hearing on GMOs case

The Human Rights Court in Accra has adjourned to next month the case in which Food Sovereignty Ghana is seeking an injunction on the commercialization of Genetically Modified Foods.

This is to afford the new defendants-National Biosafety Authority and the Attorney General’s Department- enough time to file their defenses.

The original suit was against the Agric Ministry and the Biosafety Committee but the court on its last adjourned date ordered that the A-G as well as the Biosafety Authority which has regulatory oversight over GMOs be joined in the suit.

Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo reported that when hearing began, Thursday, the AG’s Department and the Authority said they were served with the amended writ just last week and needed some time to file their defenses.

They pleaded with the judge to allow them some time to study the case and to file the appropriate defenses.

The judge agreed and adjourned the case to May 4, 2015.

Prior to the adjournment, the State Attorney had problems with media reports that suggested that the court had banned the production of GM foods in Ghana and sought the court’s permission to clarify its stance on the matter.

The judge, Justice Essel Mensah reiterated the caution he gave at the last sitting that government must refrain from going ahead with the commercial production of GM foods still stands.

“As long as the application [for injunction] has been filed they can’t do what they want to do,”

“Relief is injunctive, sometimes you don’t need a formal order,” Gakpo quoted the judge as saying.

Despite the judge’s intervention, two parties involved in the case still have a sharp difference in opinions on the production of GM foods.

The plaintiff’s lawyer George Tetteh Wayo told Gakpo shortly after hearing that with their application, the state must desist from doing anything related to GM foods.

He said even the research activities the Biosafety Authority is currently undertaking must be halted at least until after the substantive matter has been determined.

But the Chief Executive of the National Biosafety Authority, Eric Okoree said the judge’s intervention did not mean all GM activities should be stopped.

He stated the application for injunction specifically called for a cessation in commercial production of GM foods and that has been stopped but other GM related activities including research cannot be stopped.

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