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Committee moots new law on GMOs

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Hon. Alex Niyonsaba presenting the Report of the Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation on the 1st global conference on new and emerging genetic biocontrol technologies to the plenary on Thursday, 16 November 2023

The Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation has called on government to present laws regulating genetically modified organisms (GMO), to provide for the ongoing research on gene drive in the country.

The Gene Drive Technology, which is being done under the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), is preferential transmission of genes intended for curbing malaria. 

“Uganda does not have laws on GMOs despite the fact that the country is carrying out research on GMOs. This means that the country cannot ably regulate GMO development, importation, distribution and consumption within the country,” said Hon. Alex Niyonsaba (NRM, Bufumbira County South) during the plenary sitting on Thursday, 16 November 2023.

Niyonsaba was presenting the committee report on the 1st global conference on new and emerging genetic biocontrol technologies held in Nairobi, Kenya on September, 02 2023.

The committee observed that the technology has potential to control mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and genetically engineered pests that influence the environment, agriculture and industry. 

He further stated that, “given the porous borders that Uganda shares with the neighboring countries, this puts Ugandans at a risk of having GMO products distributed in the country without proper regulations”.

He explained that most countries that have embraced GMOs have legal frameworks to govern the development, import and export of GMOs. The laws he added are geared towards safe development, distribution, labelling of the products and protection of the human health and environment.

The committee recommends that GMOs should be considered but limited to non-consumable products such as cotton, which Speaker Anita Among opposed.

“The recommendation that GMOs should be limited to cotton might not be the best, because cotton seeds and oils are used to make seed cake which is fed by animals,” said Speaker Annet Among. 

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