Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have warned government and researchers against production of unregulated genetically modified (GMO) crops in the country.
They say such a move could jeopardise the health of Ugandans and pose economic risks to Uganda’s agriculture produce for export.
The CSOs; which included farmers’ organisations, faith based organisations; consumer groups trade experts and environmentalists, made the revelation on Monday at a media briefing in Kampala.
They warned that Ugandan researchers at Namulonge and Kawanda, have continued producing GMO crops, claiming to
guarantee food security, yet in the actual sense they are serving the interests of foreign multinational companies, who want to sell their technology, fertilisers and seedlings.
“Not all GMO producing countries are hunger free. In addition, much of Europe and the US import organic food and only produce GMO maize for animal consumption. Are we in Uganda animals, to feed on GMOs?”, asked Agnes Kirabo, the executive director of Uganda Food Rights Alliance .
She reiterated the need for Uganda to promote production of organic coffee, tea, vegetables and fruits because they have a ready market in Europe, the US and the Middle East.
Jane Nalunga, the country director of Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI- Uganda) said the promotion of GMOs undermines the rights of Ugandan farmers, who for generations have developed, managed, conserved and preserved the country’s genetic resources of crops, animals, herbs, insects and fish.
“This will be total contamination of the farming system due to unregulated random introduction of GMOS all over. There is need for the protection of the organic materials, indigenous varieties, consumers and breeds”.
“The use of poisons and dangerous bacteria, as inputs in genetic engineering is completely unacceptable”, she said.
President Museveni recently said that Uganda should tread with caution on GMOs.
In addition, there is evidence and experiences from the rest of the world, where this form of technology(GMOs) have failed to achieve their perceived intention and instead trapped the farmers, the economy and agricultural sector in more complex issues related to the use and misuse of the technology.
The National Bio safety Act, 2017 broadly intends to facilitate and promote research, development and general release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOS) in Uganda’s agricultural sector.
By Ambrose Gahene