I am responding to a letter in the Daily Monitor of July 22 titled, ‘Drop biosafety, biotechnology Bill’ which outlined the dangers and concerns of introducing Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) genes in Uganda.
I strongly disagree with the writer on dropping the Bill as a measure to addressing these concerns. It is not true that the Bill is intended to promote the introduction and commercialisation of GMOs, but to ensure safe use, transfer and handling of GMOs.
The Bill is in line with the governments programmes and policies of modernisation of agriculture, which can be achieved through research and biotechnology.
Taking into account that government had already ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in May 2001 which came into force in September 2003, it is under international obligation to implement it and implementation needs the law.
Given that our borders are porous and have limited human capacity to control them (border inspectors), it is more likely that GM products are already entering the country. Currently GMO products are not allowed into Uganda due to the absence of the law, except for research purposes.
One wonders what would happen to a farmer who imports GMO products into the country and has been intercepted at the borders in the absence of the law to regulate their movement.