A section of Members of Parliament is mooting a plan to introduce a Bill prohibiting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
The move follows the recent approval by the Kenya cabinet to lift the 2012 moratorium that restricted the importation or open cultivation of GMO crops in the neighboring country. The decision made Kenya the second country in Africa to allow biotechnology foods, after South Africa.
In Uganda, the tenth Parliament passed the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, but President Yoweri Museveni declined to sign it into law.
The President then asked parliament to clarify aspects of genetic engineering such as setting out the boundary of the technology to crops and animals with no crossover to human beings, labeling of GMOs, the Bill title, and also wondered why there is a plan to have genetically modified materials in the irrigated areas of Mobuku Irrigation Scheme.
Later in September 2018, Parliament reconsidered the Bill that sought to regulate genetically modified organisms and passed it under the ‘Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill, 2018’ title. The move gave Museveni his last chance to sign it into law, short of which it simply takes effect.
At the end of the Tenth Parliament, President Museveni had not signed the Bill within the 30 days mandated by the Constitution or returned it to the legislature with reasons. At the beginning of the Eleventh Parliament, the institution leadership communicated that all Bills which had been handled by the previous parliament and not concluded had elapsed and needed to be introduced afresh.
Addressing journalists on Friday, the Bufumbira East MP James Nsaba Buturo said that Ugandans need to object to any plans to introduce GMOs since they pose health risks and a danger to the environment.
He said that other MPs will be making a strong case in Parliament when the time comes and ensure that their Bill provides for the phasing out of the already existing GMOs in the country.
“They are a disaster; eminent scientists have said there are no benefits of GMOs. Most African countries have said no to them. So, those who are rushing us to accept them have their agenda,” he said.
Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, the West Budama South MP called for more research before GMOs are considered for introduction into the country. He attributed the increase in Non-Communicable Diseases to the increased consumption of GMOs.
Betty Chelain, the Amudat Woman MP said that there was a need to uphold organic crops.