10 February 2013

Uganda: GMO Bill Tabled in Parliament

A Bill whose object includes providing for development and general release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Uganda has been tabled in Parliament.

The National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012, which also provides for a regulatory framework to facilitate safe development and application of biotechnology, was tabled by the chairperson of the committee on science and technology, Denis Hamson Obua.

The Private Members Bill initiated by the committee further provides for a Competent Authority, whose functions, if approved, will include approving the development, testing and use of GMO in the country as well as updating the national focal point on matters relating to biotechnology and biosafety.

The Authority will also ensure necessary measures to avoid adverse effects on the environment, biological diversity, human health and on socio-economic conditions arising from GMOs.

It will further prescribe standards relating to development of GMOs advise government on issues of biotechnology and biosafety and coordinate the roles of other lead agencies in relation to handling of GMOs.

State minister of Planning, Matia Kasaija laid on table the certificate of financial implications of the Bill.

The Bill provides for establishment of a national Biosafety Committee which shall be responsible for, among others, advising the authority as well as recommending to it new scientific information on the subject.

A registrar shall keep and maintain a register of biotechnology and biosafety activities, among others.

A person shall not engage in research or general release of GMOs without approval under the law and the penalty for a defaulter is a fine not exceeding Sh960,000 or imprisonment not exceeding twenty four months or both.

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