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The Ghana Public Health Association organized a scientific seminar in April 2014 to examine the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into public use, and their potential health consequences. The seminar was driven by current public debate on the subject. Concerns have been raised about use of GMOs, especially in developing countries, for a variety of reasons including ethical and biosafety considerations. The seminar identified some of their advantages such as introduction of pest resistant, disease resistant, and drought tolerant crops; potential for reduced use of chemicals and pesticides; improving the nutritional properties of crops, and huge potential for production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Potential health concerns raised included current efforts focusing primarily on a few crop/trait combinations of high commercial value; most trial designs are laboratory design and of short duration; increasing observation of trends in organ disease with use of GMOs, and lack of labeling of GMO products that hinder post-marketing surveillance.
There is the need to enhance local capacity to research the introduction and use of GMOs; to put in place appropriate regulatory mechanisms including, particularly, the labeling of their products, and long-term post-marketing surveillance for possible negative health consequences.
Furthermore, the appropriate state agency should put in place advocacy and communication strategies to keep the public informed about the health and other consequences of GMOs, for informed public choices.
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