The newly enacted Biosafety Act 2017 is a Red Card to some of the most menacing crop pests and diseases that are currently ravaging hundreds of farms owned by smallholder farmers across Uganda, leading to food insecurity and economic instability, according to one pro-GMO campaigner.
Arthur Makara, the Executive Director of the Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (Scifode), says the enactment of the law last week is a historic decision by the Parliament of Uganda as it will empower farmers with new and safer tools to fight ravaging pests.
“The science fraternity are elated by the historic decision by Parliament to enact a law that will guide them in their effort to provide safe improved Biotech solutions to challenges faced by Ugandan farmers.
“It is a great decision and a Parliamentary red card against Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW) disease, Cassava Brown Streak disease Irish Potato Late Blight, and the army worm among others.” said Makara.
He added: “Farmers have a reason to celebrate too. Many have been wondering when and how such technologies can be accessed. The answer was; there were no rules of the game yet.”
Red card to human pests?
Makara, whose Scifode was the lead agency in debunking myths and lies on behalf of the science fraternity in Uganda about GM technology, observed that the law is a knock-out blow and to the anti-biotech camp.
“The bill is a Red card to the anti-science propaganda NGOs and individuals who thrive on keeping farmers in poverty while soliciting money from donors to fight poverty and farmers’ right to food.
“How can farmers have adequate and surplus food when their [NGOs] pre-occupation is to block access to improved technologies, while providing no alternatives?”
BBW, Cassava Brown Streak and the most recent Fall Army Worm attack Uganda’s Three most important crops that are both vital for food security but also the bedrock of their economic survival. After years of trying conventional means to address the problems, scientists said the diseases had proved resistant and the solution was only found through genetic engineering.
The widespread impact of all three diseases across the country is believed to have been a major reason behind widespread hunger and starvation, food price hikes and massive poverty for majority of Uganda’s population that relies heavily on agriculture for food, and income and employment.
Given his advocacy for science, President Museveni is expected to assent to the law to put it into force.