Ugandan members of parliament have come out with guns blazing over GMO crops. They plan on introducing a bill prohibiting it – a move critics say would threaten food security in the East African country.
Led by Bufumbira County East representative James Nsaba Buturo, the lawmakers announced their plan to get GMOs banned during a press conference in parliament. The move comes against the backdrop of the recent enactment of the same law in neighbouring Kenya, legalising its introduction in this country.
Nsaba Buturo said that Ugandans needed to reject any plans to introduce GMOs, claiming that it poses health risks as well as a danger to the environment.
“We will be making a very strong case in parliament when the time comes. We know it is going to be a big fight. Those people will use a lot of money but we believe that with God on our side, we shall defeat them,” he said.
‘Act wisely and not foolishly’
Buturo added that the Bill will further provide for the phasing out of the already existing GMOs in the country.
“GMOs are a disaster. Eminent scientists have said there are no benefits. Fifty African countries out of 54 have said no to to it. So, those who are rushing us to accept them have their agenda,” Buturo said.
He accused the proponents of GMOs of using it to control food production in Uganda.
“The threat faced by Uganda is worse than colonisation. Ugandans must wake up. The enemy is determined to completely encircle us, make us dependent, make us foolish before human race and we are saying no,” he said.
In 2017 and 2021, President Yoweri Museveni declined to sign into law the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012.
The Bill seeks to provide a regulatory framework that facilitates the safe development and application of biotechnology, research, development and release of genetically modified organisms.
“The president also said that we need to be cautious, act wisely and not foolishly. Introducing GMO seeds in the country have devastating consequences that very few know about. Scientists have bought the lie that GMOs are good,” Nsaba Buturo said.
More GMO research needed
Meanwhile, Dr Emmanuel Otaala called for more research before it is introduced in the country.
“If the whole of Europe does not allow GMOs, why should we Africans, who do not have better regulation mechanisms be the first to accept GMO crops?” asked Otaala, also the chairperson of the committee on environment and natural resources.
Otaala attributed the increase of non-communicable diseases to increased consumption of GMOs.
“GMOs are dangerous to biodiversity and they have the ability to contaminate our organic food,” said Otaala.
Amudat district member of parliament Betty Chelain urged Africans to uphold organic crops, saying that GMOs alter the soil and environment.
“When I was studying medicine, there were some diseases only in books but not in Africa. Introduction of GMOs means they want to introduce such diseases to Africa,” she added.