Optimism is high within Uganda’s pro-biotech community as they eagerly await outcomes of the March 28, 2018 tabling of a report on the National Biosafety bill in Parliament. The bill originally passed in October 2017 was referred back to the August body by President Yoweri Museveni citing concerns that needed to be addressed. Speaking at the official opening of the 3rd Biennial National Agricultural Biosciences Conference (NABIO) 2018, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, assured guests that the report on the bill would be tabled for debate before Parliament broke off for the Easter holiday.
Farmers attending the conference bemoaned crop devastation from various environmental stresses and pleaded with the government to pass the law that will give them the opportunity to choose better performing GM crops and other products of genetic engineering.
“Last season alone, I lost 7 acres to Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). Please fast track the enactment of the Biosafety law so farmers like me can access virus resistant GM cassava,” lamented Sarah Nabirye Kiirya, a farmer from Kiryandongo district in Western Uganda. CBSD costs the country an estimated $24.2 million in annual losses. “The president’s issues with the Biosafety bill have been addressed. So the bill will pass,” Hon. Christopher Kibazanga, State Minister for Agriculture, reassured guests while officially closing the conference.
Hon. Kibazanga addressing participants during NABIO 2018. Image source: SCIFODE
The two-day NABIO conference attracted national and international scientists, policy makers, journalists, politicians, farmers and university students to deliberate on how to harness biosciences for economic transformation.
NABIO conference is organized biennially by Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (SCIFODE) together with local and international biotech and biosafety partners. This biennial event provides a platform for dialogue among biosciences stakeholders to chart the most strategic next steps for biosciences for national and regional transformation.