Uganda: GMO Regulation Will Hinder Food Security

21 September 2019

One of the major farming debates in the local media recently has been the second rejection of the GE Regulation Bill by President Museveni.

He raised a number of issues in the document including requiring lawmakers to review the use of poisonous and dangerous viruses and bacteria, use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) materials and seeds, benefits sharing between the breeder, innovator and indigenous community, among others.

The US Embassy in Kampala quickly reacted, saying it was disappointed that the future of the Genetically Engineered Regulatory Act (GMO bill) is still in doubt.

"The technology has the potential to help Ugandan farmers increase their yields and improve livelihoods," read the US Embassy statement.

It further indicated that the US is committed to working with Ugandan scientists.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, according to some media reports, has threatened to arrange for the bill to be passed without the assent of the president, relying on Article 91(6b) in the constitution.

Parliament passed the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill in November 2018 for the second time following an earlier rejection of the bill by the president due to some clauses that he had issues with.

He referred it to parliament for further examination and rephrasing. The relevant parliamentary committee made some changes to the bill and sent it again to the president who has said it still has not addressed some issues and declined to sign it.

National Agricultural Reseacrh Oganisation (NARO) scientist and researcher, Dr Andrew Kiggundu has said, "The president's issues are not relevant to all GMOs and therefore can't be in the main law. Regulations and guidelines will specify details. Isolation distances for the hundreds of species would make a 300-page-law."

For more than 15 years Uganda government has mandated, funded, and facilitated NARO to conduct GMO research with a view to finding solutions to the country's agricultural challenges including droughts, incurable crop diseases, food security versus national population explosion, and malnutrition.

The scientists have made big successes and come up with quite helpful innovations that would promote agriculture but they cannot be released to farmers without a regulatory law in place.


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