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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Uganda GMO suicide bill: Open letter to MPs

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GMO bill: open letter to MPs

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 06:46


I am writing to urge our honourable Members of Parliament to help Ugandans by not passing Uganda’s draft National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 in its current form.   

The intention of the bill is to facilitate the introduction of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) on a massive scale in Uganda without any safeguards and this will increase farmers’ dependency on the agro-industry, because they will be obliged to buy costly patented seeds and expensive fertilizers.

Our honourable MPs need to know that the bill has not been given much public consultation and yet the public must debate thoroughly and agree on the introduction of GMOs in a country. It is also vital for our MPs to know that the bill is shortsighted and of little lasting value. It is perilous both in purpose, scope and substance.


It is aligned to the interests of transnational companies and not to the interests of Ugandan farmers and the wider public. Our dear MPs need to know that, the bill is built on the basis of rigged research as well as on the assumption of substantial equivalence.
For instance, it does not provide any scientific, empirical evidence for the failure of Uganda’s traditional farming systems and that, patented commercial seeds will deprive farmers of the right to save, replant, share or propagate their own seeds.

The bill assumes that there is no hope for any agro-ecological farming methods that can solve Uganda’s agricultural problems which is not true.  Besides, the bill has clear indications of violating the precautionary principle, which forms the basis of the African Union’s revised African model law on biodiversity. Further still, the bill does not provide any assurance that Ugandans will be food secure through having physical, economical and social access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preference for an active and healthy life at all the times.

Our dear MPs should know that the bill does not provide any data on who qualifies to conduct GMO trials and assumes that there is complete capacity in biotechnology and biosafety issues in Uganda. More so, the bill does not provide any assurance on who checks and evaluates the performance of the so-called competent authority.

The agro-ecology and earth jurisprudence are the way forward to respect and protect the earth rather than exploiting it because they enshrine care of the earth, seeds, soil, water, all life forms, and build on the harmony of the entire web of creation.


GMOs and their chemical inputs devastate soil health and the ecology that support myriad life forms on our planet. GMOs foster large mono-cropping operations that destroy biodiversity, increase the use of pesticides and herbicides, and encourage land grabbing.

GMO corporations privatise seeds and commercialise agricultural genetic resources through patents, aiming to gain control of global food resources and sabotage local seed/plant varieties and production for purposes of their own power and profit.

Claims by GMO proponents of increased crop yields, less use of pesticides and herbicides, nutrient advantage and drought resistance are false. There is growing evidence of harmful effects on human health and the environment from these unnatural plant aliens forced upon us by agribusiness industries, whose primary aim is market control of the global food system.

GMOs jeopardize traditional and smallholder farmers’ food/seed security. The bill does not cater for the eco-social justice towards the earth community and its biodiversity for present and future generations.

I, therefore, urge our dear MPs to consider passing a bill which only restricts the introduction of GMOs in Uganda.

The writer is the secretary general, Uganda Network on Toxic-Free Malaria Control (UNETMAC).