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Researchers applaud Ruto On Biotechnology

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By Agnes Nantambi

Ugandan researchers have applauded Kenya’s President, William Ruto, for lifting the ban on biotechnology in his country saying their hope for food security has been strengthened.

The scientists believe its high time Uganda should fall suit and embrace the technology if issues of climate change most especially prolonged drought are to be mitigated.

While speaking during a biotechnology walk organized by RePlanet Africa and Science Stories Africa in conjunction with Makerere University College of Natural Sciences on yesterday, Dr.Andrew Kigundu a senior biotechnology researcher at NARO said Kenya’s good gesture towards biotechnology cannot be under rated.

“For all the years, we have advocated for the proper regulations to enhance usage of GMO products in the country but its unfortunate that we are consuming others being imported when ours are being confined.

Its high time that our president reconsiders this and ascent to the GMO bill so that these products are put in the open other than consuming them indirectly,” he said.

He complains that government has injected a lot of money into research in Biotechnology which has also generated experts in the field but again its annoying that these experts cannot upscale the knowledge got due to lack of a regulation.      

The walk attended by several Ugandan scientists, students, farmers and well-wishers of Biotechnology was aimed at supporting Kenya’s lifting of the ban on GMO importation and consumption.

Biotechnology students of Makerere University accompanied by researchers and well wishers of Biotechnology and researchers dancing as they celebrate President Ruto’s decision to give green light to GMOs. Photos by Agnes Nantambi

RePlanet Africa is a grassroot organization that builds on science to liberate nature, promote prosperity, and address the challenge of climate change.

 According to Patricia Nanteza, the director RePlanet Africa, the food crisis in Kenya is not any different from that in Uganda.

“FAO estimates that 12 percent of the total population in Uganda is chronically food insecure, while in Kenya, this figure is at 35 percent. To avert the growing food crisis and to guarantee that every Kenyan has access to safe and nutritious food.

 To address the perennial food shortage in the country, the Kenyan government lifted the ban on the importation, sale, and consumption of GMOs,” she said

She added, “We share in Kenya’s conviction that GMOs are an essential tool in the fight against hunger and poverty, and we are proud to take a stand in to support their use,”

Biotech innovations will only reach the intended beneficiaries when governments pass pro-science regulations and remove barriers like the ban in Kenya. We celebrate Kenya’s bold action because one such move will have a catalytic effect in the region, with other countries like Uganda following suit.

She explained that from science, MOs have been proven to be safe and effective in providing a sustainable and reliable food source for the world’s growing population.

According to Daniel Magondu, a BT cotton farmer in Kenya, “conventional cotton will yield 500 to 700kg per acre, while Bt cotton will yield 1,500 to 2,000kgs from the same acre.

Students of Makerere University with researchers and activists for GMOs mathcing during the GMO walk, Photos by Agnes Nantambi

Kenya recently lifted a ban on the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops amid the worst drought in 40 years and soaring food prices.

One of the students at Makerere University, Jovia Settumba, said failure to pass the important laws in uganda is frustrating them as the upcoming scientists.

“We need our government especially the MPs to embrace understanding the GMO regulations such that they can sell to the president what they understand properly, “he said.

She said it will be very disappointing for the GMOs grown in Kenya to enter Uganda when the Ugandan farmers have been denied the opportunity to grow them.

One of the farmer Grace Wendiro said her hopes are in GMOs because of their resilience to climate change.

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