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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The fallacy of appealing to authority and experience :If GMOs are good for the EU, then they must be good for Uganda: A critique of Clet Wandui Masiga’s support for the passing of Uganda National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012


Mr. Clet Wandui Masiga ‘s arguments are premised on the fallacious view that Since GMOs have been accepted by  many countries in the EU that formerly  rejected them as unsafe, them even Uganda should consider them safe. This is an error in reasoning . The truth is that some EU countries such as Hungary and Switzerland have vehemently rejected GMOs. In addition the acceptance of GMOs in the EU is not based on genuine science but by politics and lies  from corporations such as Mosanto . According to Natural Society .com  :

 In an act of defiance against GMOs and biotech at large, Hungary has once again made a move against Big Biotech. In an attempt to make the entire European Union free from GMO crops, Hungary will initiate a joint alliance of European Union member states rejecting the use of GMOs in farming. Hungarian farm minister Sándor Fazekas said the countries committed to GMO-free farming must form an alliance because “we would like to keep our food and our environment healthy and we are convinced that the agriculture of the EU and Hungary can remain competitive with conventional crop and livestock production.” 

As one following GMO news might suspect Hungary’s interests stem from the EUs recent decision to allow individuals member states to institute GMO bans. While GMO bans in the European Union haven’t been the easiest thing to figure out the European Parliament’s vote to give member states or regions more power to refuse GMOs does make things clearer. This brings real rights for countries to ban GMOs a step closer. What’s more, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted against giving biotech companies any pull when it came to GMO crop bans.

This is certainly not the first time Hungary has acted against GMOs. In the past, Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds. Unlike many European Union countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned.
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Let’s emulate EU decision to approve GM foods

By Clet Wandui Masiga

Ugandan legislatures should emulate the European Union and pass the Uganda National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012 that will facilitate the safe development and application of modern biotechnology and to provide mechanisms to regulate research, development and general release of genetically modified (GMOs). 

It is now clear that European Union that Ugandans and many other developing countries had emulated to reject GMOs is now convinced that GMOs are safe to humans, environment and biodiversity as evidenced by its April 22, 2015 approval of GMs in Europe.

European Commission’s food safety authority has after a series of scientific assessments decided to authorize 10 new biotech products for food/feed use. EC has also renewed seven existing authorizations and authorized the importation of 2 genetically modified (GM) cut flowers.

These products had gone through a full authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the authorization decisions do not cover cultivation.

All the biotech products approved have been proved to be safe before they were placed on the EU market. The risk assessment has been done by EFSA in collaboration with Member States for each individual genetically modified organism (GMO) to be put on the market.

The GM food and feed authorizations will be added to the existing list of 58 GMOs authorized in the EU for food and feed uses (covering maize, cotton, soybean, oilseed rape, sugar beet). The authorizations are valid for 10 years, and any products produced from these GM products will be subject to the EU's labelling and traceability rules.

These GMOs were proved to be safe by EFSA in collaboration with Member States for each individual GMO to be put on the market. The GM food and feed authorisations will be added to the existing list of 58 GMOs authorized in the EU for food and feed uses. 

The authorizations are valid for 10 years, and and now allows GM maize, soybean, oilseed rape, cotton, and flowers on EU markets. This is a positive development and hopefully will now influence Ugandans and other countries to adopt GM crops.

Before these approvals, many Ugandans against GMOs had urged that Uganda should not adopt GMOs in their farming systems because of fear that the Ugandan farm products wold not be allowed to access European Markets. In fact some analyst had urged that European Union had forced African governments to reject adoption on GMOs due to interest only known to the EU.

Now that EU has accessed and found that GMOs are safe, we hope Ugandan legislature will prioritize the adoption of the Biotechnology and biosafety bill 2012. Very recently Nigeria passed their biosafety bill and now the country joins a few other African countries in growing GMOs.

While Uganda have debated for more than 15 years on whether to allow or not allow the growing of GM crops, these crops were planted in 28 countries in 2014 and hectarage has increased more than 100-fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 181.5 million hectares in 2014. The benefits of GM crops are massive. 

Globally, on average GM crop technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%.

They have contributed to Food Security, Sustainability and Environment/Climate Change by increasing crop production, providing better environment by saving pesticides use and making farming a competitive business.

The writer is a conservation biologist and geneticist and farm entrepreneur