The Government of Uganda has Wednesday announced the enactment of the National Biosafety Act by Parliament, a law which will among other things regulate the importation of Genetically Modified Products into the country.
The passing of this law comes amidst cries amongst farmers that GMOs have led to acceleration of poverty since they are not resilient to climate change, leading to poor harvest.
The development was announced by Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
According to the statement, “The Act is expected to facilitate the safe development and application of modern biotechnology.”
The government defines biotechnology as any technique that uses living organisms or substances from living organisms to make or modify a product, improve plant, animal breeds or micro-organisms for specific purposes.
Biosafety on the other hand means the safe development, transfer, application and utilization of biotechnology and its products.
The law, the minister says, will provide for safe development and use of biotechnology in Uganda in order to exploit and promote the use of biotechnology and science in modernizing agriculture, environmental protection, enhancing public health and industrialization.
“The Act will make it possible for Uganda to derive maximum benefit from the potential that modern biotechnology has to offer, while minimizing the risks to the environment and to human health. The Act provides mechanisms to regulate research, development and general release of genetically modified organisms and for related matters,” said Tumwesigye.
Besides protecting Uganda’s borders from unauthorized entry of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the law will also protect people from consuming unsafe biotechnology products.
It will also alleviate our farmers from the devastation and impoverishment often caused by crop diseases, animal diseases, uncontrolled use of expensive pesticides and unpredictable weather and drought occasioned by climate change; give the country opportunities to use all science and technological options including modern biotechnology tools to handle crop and animal diseases and other stresses that cannot be effectively handled by conventional tools.
Other purposes of the law are “to support our scientists to fully and safely utilize their advanced knowledge and capabilities in biotechnology to help us solve contemporary challenges especially in health, agriculture, industry and environment, and unlock the full potential of our economy to create wealth and jobs for our young people as well as shared prosperity for all using all facets of the bio-economy.”
Dr. Tumwesigye, in the statement, applauded President Yoweri Museveni for the long term positive support and commitment towards scientists and institutions and for coming out publicly in enabling the passage of the The National Biotechnology and Biosafety law.
He also commended Speaker of Parliament and Members of Parliament (especially members of the Science and Technology Committee) towards the enactment of this important law and advancement of biotechnology in Uganda.
Hon. Elioda henceforce, calls upon the relevant government ministries, departments, agencies, other stakeholders and citizens to recognize the benefits of this law and support its implementation to regulate modern biotechnology for the benefits of Ugandan society, Africa and the global community.