As members of Parliament on Wednesday resume the debate on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), sharp criticism has emerged with the public fighting against the passing of the bill into law.
The Science and Technology committee that resumed Wednesday with a public hearing were informed by the Pan African Club, the lead critics of the bill that the GMOs are very dangerous and not necessary for Uganda.
“GMOs are very dangerous not only to human beings but the soil too and research has been done to that effect,” the club to Parliament. Adding, “it is unsafe to eat GM foods, and that GMOs are a time- bomb for Africa and Uganda in particular.”
According to the club, the yields from GMOs can’t be replanted and this may put the country’s agriculture sector which is backbone of Uganda’s economy.
They continued: “The case of GMOs is not as simple as you have put it. What is wrong with our traditional products? Look at the life span of our grandfathers? What were they feeding on? What we need is increased production and not artificial seeds! And why should they impose those GMOs to us? Are they more generous than God who gave us these natural seeds?”
The Biosafety and Biotechnology Bill 2012 has been on the floor of Parliament for about three years now since being tabled by the then chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Denis Obua.
Critics say growing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country will adversely affect Ugandans both medically and make farming more expensive.
The debate on GMOs was halted last year as the committee sought for more time to carry out extensive research and conduct public hearing.
But supporters of the GMO bill insist that due to population pressure, farmers are working on smaller plots caused by land area fragmentation. The soil is exhausted and due to financial limitations most farmers are unable to access high-yield seeds, fertilizers or to carry out irrigation. Some of the country’s main food crops such as bananas and cassava, are under attack by pests and diseases and they are fast dying out, further threatening food security. Statistically, Uganda is Africa’s leading banana producer and stands only next to India internationally.
The country already has a National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Policy (2008) and has also put in place a team of scientists and other stakeholders, the Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC), whose mandate is to support and uphold the safe and responsible use of biotechnology for national development.