Google+ Followers

Monday, 24 June 2013

The day Uganda Scientists exposed their hypocrisy and naivety about globalization and the GMOs in Uganda: Academics, activists clash over GMO bill







Comment

The views of Pro-GMOs Ugandan Scientists  in the article below are naïve and hypocritical . For example:

Jackie Atim, a plant pathologist at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro), disagrees with Oloya’s assertion that genetically modified crops or food will enslave Ugandan farmers for generations. Atim insists that biotechnology is the way to go and therefore, the Bio-safety Bill, which is under parliamentary scrutiny, is just timely. “The bill is here to control the usage and conserve those seeds planted year after year with reducing yields…but are of benefit and joy to our farmers,” she argues. She believes the country can’t talk of commercialisation of agriculture, with a hand hoe and poor planting materials without accepting at least hybrids or genetically modified seeds. “This bill has nothing to do with Monsanto, Canada [GM corporations] or the rest of the world; it is about Uganda’s domestic needs being addressed by our own policymakers ... Organic farming is a lifestyle and Uganda is leading in the world by default,” she wrote, noting that genetically modified seeds will be supplied to farmers at a low price.

Ms Atim’s thinking that commercialization of Agriculture is synonymous with introduction GMOs is an error in reasoning. Many countries have commercialized organic farming that has guaranteed their populations food security . She also argues that the bill has nothing to do with Mosanto, not knowing that according to Uganda’s Plan for the modernization of Agriculture, the private sector is the fulculum of Uganda’s economy. This simply means  that once the Bio-technology and Bio-safety bill is passed, private multinational prayers like Mosanto will have a lee way into this enterprise after all they are the experts when it comes to GMOs. What will Ms Atim do when Mosanto throws billions  of dollars into  NARO and the pockets and mouths of scientists there in ? She opines that Uganda is leading the world in organic farming by default. She needs to be ware that Uganda is not leading by default but by divine providence. Ms Atim also reiterates that genetically modified seeds will be supplied to farmers at a low price however she does not tell us what will happen to farmers who can not afford that so called low price.

In the same article, Jacqueline Nyagahima, head of communication, at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), believes poverty is what will enslave generations of Ugandan farmers if the country doesn’t harness and embrace science. “We have very capable and responsible Ugandan scientists. After 12 years of hard work, our own Ugandan scientists have released to farmers, varieties of cassava that are tolerant to both the cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease. You may be aware that these diseases had affected cassava production in the country and made very many Ugandans, food insecure. Farmers are multiplying these cassava varieties to make the clean planting materials available to other farmers,” she notes.

Jacquline’s argument that ‘’We have very capable and responsible Ugandan scientists who will not let us down once The Biotectenology and Biosafety bill is passed is laughable. Are these scientists from Mars? Isn’t   Uganda one of the most corrupt countries in the world? What makes one think that being a scientists is synonymous  with being ethical and having integrity ? We need to note the USA has some of the most capable and ‘responsible’  scientists who have been swept off their feet by Mosanto billions. How many Ugandan scientists will stand up to protect Uganda’s God given organic heritage when Mosanto Invests billions of dollars purposely to kill this organic heritage. Jacqueline should be ware that the introduction of GMO escalates poverty because it dismantles the organic seed heritage that the farmers depend on from season to season. This tantamount to food terrorism and is an attack  on  the right of Ugandans  to food sovereignty .

Tom Egwang, a lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere, concurs. “Opiyo Oloya’s [opinion] boiled my blood and made me want to scream. How can GMOs enslave Ugandans? Uganda has very capable scientists, who are now transforming matooke and other food crops to confer upon them higher nutritional content, this will only go towards ensuring food and nutritional security,” he argues. Egwang believes that scientists at Kawanda and Namulonge are working at the cutting edge of science. “They [scientists] are not working at the call of any multinational. They are working towards freeing Ugandans from the shackles of hunger and malnutrition. Opiyo Oloya, do you call this enslavement? If this is enslavement, you must be hailing from another planet,” he posted.  

Tom is oblivious of the fact that Ugandan scientists are some of the least underpaid in the world and hence once Mosanto Pavlovises them with billion of dollars in order to dismantle Uganda’s organic heritage, they will surely not stand. It is surprising that Ugandan scientists are very ignorant of economic  globalization  and naively think that they can play an isolationist role when it comes to agricultural research. Ugandan scientists need to know that what causes hunger in Uganda is not food scarcity but rather maldistribution. The people in  Karamoja for instance are dying of hunger as a lot of food is thrown away else where in Uganda . It is surprising that the government has completely done away with the idea of Food reserves(SILOS).  Therefore , once GMOs are legally introduced in Uganda , research in improving organic food varieties by Ugandan scientists will die a natural death and the entry and control of  Uganda’s agricultural research by Multinationals like Mosanto is inevitable. Ugandan scientists need to be honest and patriotic as regards the protection of Uganda’s food sovereignty.



Academics, activists clash over GMO bill


Sunday, 09 June 2013 21:24

Written by Edward Ssekika

After years of debate and preparation, Canadian-based Ugandan columnist Opiyo Oloya has asked Parliament to shelve the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012.

Oloya, a teacher, argues that genetically modified crops (GMOs) do not regenerate, meaning generations of poor farmers will have to buy seeds from profit-hungry companies. 

However, Oloya’s recommendation has kicked off a furious e-mail debate among scientists and researchers at Makerere University, Kawanda and Namulonge Research Centres. Edward Ssekika followed the discussion.

Jackie Atim, a plant pathologist at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro), disagrees with Oloya’s assertion that genetically modified crops or food will enslave Ugandan farmers for generations. Atim insists that biotechnology is the way to go and therefore, the Bio-safety Bill, which is under parliamentary scrutiny, is just timely.

“The bill is here to control the usage and conserve those seeds planted year after year with reducing yields…but are of benefit and joy to our farmers,” she argues.

She believes the country can’t talk of commercialisation of agriculture, with a hand hoe and poor planting materials without accepting at least hybrids or genetically modified seeds.

“This bill has nothing to do with Monsanto, Canada [GM corporations] or the rest of the world; it is about Uganda’s domestic needs being addressed by our own policymakers ... Organic farming is a lifestyle and Uganda is leading in the world by default,” she wrote, noting that genetically modified seeds will be supplied to farmers at a low price.


Tom Egwang, a lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere, concurs.

“Opiyo Oloya’s [opinion] boiled my blood and made me want to scream. How can GMOs enslave Ugandans? Uganda has very capable scientists, who are now transforming matooke and other food crops to confer upon them higher nutritional content, this will only go towards ensuring food and nutritional security,” he argues.

Egwang believes that scientists at Kawanda and Namulonge are working at the cutting edge of science.

“They [scientists] are not working at the call of any multinational. They are working towards freeing Ugandans from the shackles of hunger and malnutrition. Opiyo Oloya, do you call this enslavement? If this is enslavement, you must be hailing from another planet,” he posted.


Jacqueline Nyagahima, head of communication, at the Association for Strengthening Agricultureal Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), believes poverty is what will enslave generations of Ugandan farmers if the country doesn’t harness and embrace science.

“We have very capable and responsible Ugandan scientists. After 12 years of hard work, our own Ugandan scientists have released to farmers, varieties of cassava that are tolerant to both the cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease. You may be aware that these diseases had affected cassava production in the country and made very many Ugandans, food insecure. Farmers are multiplying these cassava varieties to make the clean planting materials available to other farmers,” she notes.

Nyagahima qualifies her argument by giving the example of farmers in the districts of Kiryandongo, Apac and Arua who are multiplying the cassava variety  called NASE 14, which has doubled their fortune.

“They [farmers] were full of praise of the variety and are looking to reap good money from the sales of the cuttings (seed), and the tubers (food). Farmers, who were early beneficiaries, told us of the large profits they had got from selling the cuttings. Arua district chairman said cassava is a crop the district is using to free people from ‘enslavement’ to tobacco production,” she noted.


However, Giregon Olupot, a soil bio-physicist and lecturer in the department of Agriculture Production at Makerere University, supports Dr Oloya and compares GMOs to the tyranny of aid.

“We need to nurture our home-grown science and technology without compromising our indigenous knowledge systems and practices, spanning centuries upon centuries back, but which are now threatened by being wiped out at a mere blink of an eye by genetic manipulation…,” Olupot noted.

He accuses pro-GMO scientists and journalists whom he claims are wellfacilitated, motivated and coached to discredit and neutralise any emerging evidence against GMOs. Olupot says there is no proof that farmers’ practices can be protected from contamination with GMOs, be it in Africa or outside Africa.

“What I detest is for gene manipulators to blind us, that all has failed and therefore that we desperately need this terrorist GMO bill passed, or we are doomed. I’m willing to reconcile and join hands with you to address our people’s problems that we were educated to address,” Olupot says.

“If we truly cherish the truth, let us face it … there is no middle ground between tampering with DNA and, tapping into the magic alternatives that exist to address our problems without genetic manipulation. You are either for the tyranny of GMOs or for Africa’s way of life.” he wrote.


Dr Chris Bakuneeta, a lecturer in the department of Zoology at Makerere, notes that scientists need to develop the capacity to assess the environmental risks from GMOs.
“But the starting point is accepting that we go slow but sure. Most African countries are not far ahead of the Bio-safety Bill. However, the impression you get is that Uganda is very ready and if we do not pass the bill, hell will land here,” he writes.


Sam Nzabandora wants more considerations. “GM food corporations are not donors; they are there to make money for their shareholders by patenting the crops and seeds so that you pay them every time you eat. They set the price and since there is hardly any competition, prices will keep rising,” he says.

Accepting GMO through the bio technology bill means that if a poor farmer is caught replanting the harvested GM seeds/crops, because he or she can’t afford to buy the needed seeds, he or she will be prosecuted.  “How on earth does that help the poor? Rural farmers who lack a lot will have to pay every time they plant GM seeds,” he said.

“This is not fiction. It is happening right now, Prince Charles claims that thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops. Now if educated individuals able to use the internet don’t seem to understand that the GM corporations’ interest is not about feeding the hungry, but making the most money for their shareholders, how will a villager who never went to school understand patent law?”


Ellady Muyambi, a civil society activist, says many countries have already imposed a ban on the cultivation and sale of GMOs and he wonders why Uganda wants to adopt GM technology. Muyambi cites countries like Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungry, Greece, and Bulgaria, among others, where GM crops are banned.

“In Switzerland, the country banned all GMO crops, animals, and plants on its fields and farms in a public referendum in 2005. If these niche destinations for Uganda’s agro products outlawed GMOs, why should we even think about making Uganda a GMO economy?” he wonders.


First Read:

Battle over Mosanto’s GMOs in Uganda : Civil society petition EALA over biosafety Bill



Ugandans need a law that bans GMOs, not one that promotes them

http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2013/03/ugandans-need-law-that-bans-gmos-not.html


GMO technology will enslave generations of Uganda farmers