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WikiLeaks: U.S. diplomats pushing Ghana to allow GM crops

A U.S. Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks last week shows American officials orchestrating a campaign to push leaders in Ghana toward allowing genetically modified crops into the country.

Diplomatic correspondence uncovered by Wikileaks last year demonstrated that promoting genetically modified farming worldwide is part of the U.S. government’s international agenda. But this latest cable, posted August 26 on a WikiLeaks sister site, has gotten little attention outside of Ghana. It provides greater detail on how the U.S. is using its outsized political and economic influence to lobby small nations for GMO-friendly laws.

The American Embassy in Accra sent the cable in early 2010 requesting $13,700 in funds to bring a U.S biotechnology expert in agricultural production and development to Ghana to speak with leaders “on the merits of biotechnology” and “how advanced science could help Ghana more effectively deal with issues of food security and the likely impact on farming from climate change.”

The cable observes that Ghana is the largest commercial market for U.S. rice in West Africa. At that time, the government of Ghana had yet to pass legislation permitting GM crops to be grown in the country and “public opinion on biotechnology is divided, with some editorials questioning the wisdom and safety of genetically engineered crops.”

Embassy officials write that a 2009 program to bring a U.S. biotech expert to meet with leaders in Nigera about GM crops was successful, and a similar effort in Ghana could “meaningfully engage with government officials and legislators, academics, public audiences, and the media about the merits of biotechnology.”  

U.S. companies have begun the process to engage the Ghanian government to allow “field trials of biotech crops” in the country, the cable notes.

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