Experts, MPs back proposed GMO Bill
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 01:00
Researchers say Uganda should pass the Bill since the country is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol.
Researchers and lawmakers have backed the proposed National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, saying it will regulate the use of modern technology and promote research in the country.
The researchers said the Bill, if passed into law, shall provide a regulatory framework to facilitate safe development and application of biotechnology. The officials were sensitising members of the Parliamentary Forum on Food Security at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI) in Namulonge on Friday about steps undertaken to curb the rampant cassava brown streak disease.
While releasing new varieties of cassava that are resistant to cassava brown streak disease, the researchers said it was important to improve on the available cassava breed since the disease is posing a challenge to cassava production.
The Bill, a private members’ initiative, is before the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee for consideration. It was initiated by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee and tabled before Parliament by Mr Dennis Hamson Obua (Ajuri County), the chairperson of the Science and Technology Committee.
It, among others, provides for a Competent Authority, whose functions would include approving the development, testing and use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the country as well as updating the national focal point on matters relating to biotechnology and biosafety.
There are, however, fears from some sections of the public that introducing genetically modified products may push the cost of seeds up. Those opposed to GMOs also express fears regarding the viability of seeds after the first harvest.
A number of countries ratified to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to which Uganda is a signatory. Mr Arthur Makara, the executive director Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, emphasised that Uganda must domesticate the Cartagena protocol.