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CSOs Launch Campaign Against GMOs

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Agricultural experts from several civil society organisations have announced weeklong activities in an effort to denounce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The campaign, which started Monday, October 24, 2022, will run till Friday, October 28, under the theme of: Networking for a Greener Africa.

According to Josephine Akia Luyimbazi, the country co-ordinator of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), a bigger percentage of CSOs are against GMOs because they belive GMOs contain dangerous chemicals that can damage the environment and human health.

“We want our markets to be full of indigenous foods and we are working with regional partners on promoting our local produces,” Akia said during the media briefing today at Eureka Hotel in Kampala.

In 2018, Parliament passed the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill, 2018, formerly known as the National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill. 

The Bill that was seeking to provide a regulatory framework for the safe development and application of biotechnology and release of GMOs.

Parliament earlier passed the same Bill on October 4, 2017, but President Yoweri Museveni declined to assent to it and sent it back to Parliament for review. 

The President specifically sought clarity on the title, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals. 

He said Parliament had a duty to protect crops and livestock with unique genetic configurations developed by Ugandans. 

The President argued that by using genetic engineering, one may add an additional quality-such as drought resistance, quick maturing and disease resistance, which he said are ignored by the Bill that talks of giving the monopoly of patent rights to its adder and forgets about the communities that developed the original material.

“This is wrong. Yes, we appreciate the contribution of the adder, but we cannot forget the original preservers, developers and multipliers of the original materials. This must be clarified,” Museveni said then.

Agriculture ministry assistant Commissioner of crop production John Ludongokol said the Government, through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), is undertaking a thorough research and studies on the Bill.

He said the Government has GMO seeds, but still have to be well-researched before any move about them.

“People are saying no to GMOs and they are preferring sticking to indigenous crops. The Government is also hesitant to enact the Bill that promotes the usage of GMOs,” Ludongokol said.

The commissioner was speaking during the launch of Agroecology Week of Action 2022, which commenced on Monday and will end on Friday.

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