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Campaign against GMOs in Uganda

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The Government of the Republic of Uganda adopted the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy in 2008. At the moment, it is in advanced stages of passing the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 commonly known as the GMO law specifically to massively promote Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Uganda.

The Bill, whose drafting has taken nearly 5 years (since 2008), was at first presented by Hon Obua Denis Hamson, a Member of Parliament for Ajuri County and the Chairperson for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology as a Private Members Bill. It was however later gazetted by the Solicitor-General’s office and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED) a as a fully-fledged Bill and approved by the Cabinet in October 2012.
It was read in Parliament for the first time on the 5th February, 2013 by Hon Maria Kiwanuka where the Speaker Right Honourable Rebecca Kadaga referred it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology which by the first presenter of the Bill, Hon Obua Denis Hamson. The Committee was given only 45 days to report back to the Speaker and to present the Bill for the Second Reading on the floor of Parliament.  At the moment, the Committee is compiling its report.

The pro- GMO activists, united under Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC)—a civil society organization in Uganda is desperately urging and unscientifically convincing Uganda’s Parliamentarians to prioritize the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 in their legislative agenda this year [2013]. The pro-GMO activists in Uganda are fully facilitated and are coming up in full gear to convince whoever they can reach to accept and support the passing of the un popular Bill.
The Ugandan Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 is a regulatory framework for the promotion of the use of Biotechnology in the development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) (including crops and animals) on a massive scale in Uganda. Although the drafting of the Bill has taken some time, it has hurriedly been tabled before Parliament with limited public consultations. Very little effort has been made to promote public awareness about GMOs and biosafety.

In its current form, the Bill is aligned to the interests of transnational/multinational companies and not to the interests of Ugandan farmers and the wider public. The promotion of this Bill has also been suspicious because its proponents have favoured  to  talk only about  the  positive  impacts  of GMOs and  neglected  to  truthfully  tell  stakeholders of the negative implications. This is a violation of the precautionary principle, which forms the basis of the African Union’s revised African Model Law on Biodiversity.

Subjecting the Ugandan agricultural sector to the imperatives of the Agro-Industry and its GMO-model will gradually destroy Uganda’s traditional family farming and local seed systems. The massive introduction of GMOs will increase family farmers’ dependency on the Agro-Industry and small holder farmers will be obliged to buy costly patented seeds as well as expensive “TOXIC” pesticides and fertilizers. Vital aspects of GMOs include the hyper use of the pesticide glyphosate sold under trade name Roundup which is not only too toxic to crops but also to human health and environment.

It is well known with no doubt that agriculture is a driving force of the Ugandan economy since it employs over 80% Ugandans in the chain of production contributing to the total exports and growth. This fact makes farmers very important stakeholders to any Bill that is directly going to affect them in any way. The farmers’ voice is therefore very important when policy makers start discussing or debating the Biotechnology and Bio-safety bill 2012.

The Bill has not been given much public consultation and yet Article 1 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to which Uganda is a signatory, demands that the public must debate thoroughly and agree on the introduction of GMOs in a country.

It is therefore against this background that Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control (UNETMAC) within its limited resources has been creating awareness about this matter.  UNETMAC intends to sensitize members of the civil society, farmers, policy makers, religious leaders, cultural leaders, academicians, journalists, researchers, students especially at institutions of higher learning as well as the general public about the concerns of GMOs.
UNETMAC is equipped with the personnel who are knowledgeable in biotechnology matters and also collaborates very well with other experienced partners at local, national, regional and international levels.  The major concerns of UNETMAC of GMOs are related with human health and environment as well as the efficacy of biotechnology in solving food security concerns in Africa and in Uganda in particular.

Please, visit the links below to view some of our efforts in this campaign

http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/Ugandans-need-a-law-that-bans-GMOs--not-one-that-promotes-them/-/689364/1723078/-/xrujouz/-/index.html
http://www.independent.co.ug/column/insight/7567-more-public-debate-needed-on-gmos
mobile.monitor.co.ug/Oped/Ugandans.../-/index.html
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/author/ellady-muyambi
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/.../ugandans-need-law-that-bans-gmo
http://allafrica.com/stories/201303151188.html

Please, join us and support us in this campaign in our effort to promote a malaria free, sustainable and toxic free future.


Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 15:43