Uganda: Politicians persuaded of GMO potential to combat crop diseases

Misconceptions surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have by no means been dispelled, even among legislators who purport to be supporting it. Last week there was a bioscience conference, held at the Uganda National Industrial Research Institute, where Ugandan MP Syda Bbumba pledged her support for the Biosafety Bill. Her reason for supporting it was that “the demon is already here with us”.

The Biosafety Bill was passed by Parliament in October last year, but was later returned to the House unsigned by the President for reconsideration of specific clauses and issues that the President pointed out in his letter to the Speaker.
Last year, the President in his letter to the Speaker, enquired whether the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) had already released GMOs. He went on to direct for the establishment of the “Noah’s Ark” to protect “our indigenous” varieties in case something goes wrong. The scientists later confirmed that what the President referred to as “Noah’s Ark” is a Gene Bank which is already in existence.

NARO insists they only use GM technology to solve problems which cannot be handled through conventional means of crossing pollen from say a resistant variety to the stigma of a non-resistant variety with the hope of producing some off-springs which are resistant and liked by farmers.

According to geneticliteracyproject.org, with important crop disease challenges being addressed through genetic engineering, it is understandable for more politicians to support the “demon” for the sake of ensuring a Uganda with food security.

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