Press Release in Response to the NRM Caucus Decision to Pass the GMO Bill
May 6th 2015
Following the announcement of the NRM caucus resolution on Monday 4th
May 2015, to pass with amendments the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012into law, we the concerned citizens of Uganda express our utmost disappointment that an issue of such grave national importance has been reduced to petty political caucusing. The passing of the Bill with amendments further trivializes the issue since the said amendments have neither been revealed nor discussed. We recognize and support the need to have a law regulating Biotechnology, however consensus has to be built on what kind of law this country needs.
Whereas the reason given by the caucus to pass the Bill is to regulate GMOs on the market, the Bill is focused on facilitating general release and commercialization thus facilitating rather thanregulating GMOs. The National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill is also only about GMOs yet there are other useful forms of Biotechnology which have been left out. Therefore the title of the Bill, National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill is grossly misleading.
The draft Bill contains fundamental gaps which we have consistently and diligently highlighted, and which require rigorous review, democratic discussion and redrafting. (Refer to the press release attached) We have also noted with concern that the caucus based their decision on a brief from scientists who have been renowned promoters of GMOs ignoring alternative views from other stakeholders, well-knowing the controversy surrounding this issue.
The controversies surrounding GMOs in terms of their implications on health, export trade to the EU, Agricultural production, environment, food safety, biodiversity, farming systems and food sovereignty is well documented by well-respected bodies and renowned scientists. All these issues should have informed the decision of the caucus beyond the purported importance of GMOs that scientists shared with them.
We acknowledge that the agricultural sector is experiencing tremendous challenges and that there is growing need for food and trade within and outside the country. These challenges however are not about the kind of technology that farmers use but are a representation of total government neglect of the agricultural sector exemplified by government chronic underfunding, total absence of agricultural extension services, unacceptable post-harvest handling losses, lack of reliable agricultural markets, unregulated markets flooded with fake and disastrous agricultural inputs among others.
- The Parliament of the republic of Uganda should halt the caucus’ decision of passing this Bill into law until thorough consultations are made and the identified gaps in the Bill addressed.
For more information please contact Food Rights Alliance on Frauganda@gmail.com
, +256 414 695 518, +256 414 540 856