By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under stewardship of Caritas Uganda and The Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform (UFCVP) have kickstarted preliminary stages of waging serious war against on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
It should be noted that in 2018, Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni denied to ascent to the Bill that had been passed by Parliament claiming that some clauses within it were not clear and was returned for revision.
CSOs fight refers to the recent decision neighbouring Kenya with which Uganda shares market considered to lift the ban on Genetic Engineering Bill in a bid to defend Ugandans’ right to seed and food sovereignty.
Speaking during CSOs engagement on effective fight against approaching invasion of GMOs in the country, Betty Rose Aguti- who doubles as the Advocacy & Policy Specialist at Caritas Uganda and National Coordinator of The Uganda Framers’ Common Voice Platform (UFCVP) stressed that they to increase awareness on the negative effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and community knowledge on health and nutritional diets.
She implored fellow CSOs in the fight be re-organize in the way that their efforts won’t be engulfed at once underway.
She went on to inform presence of academia academia in their fight is very vital as they will help in conduct study and enabled them to have evidential fight.
Betty also earmarked the issue of approaching legislators who are in support of their fight as well compelling others to join the struggle for the safety of our food and future generation.
“We don’t want to be reactionary but pro-active in the fight against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) invasion.
GENESIS OF GMOs FIGHT IN SIGHT
In 2006, African Union adopted a resolution stating that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were not welcome.
The East African countries ratified Cartagena Protocol that spells out GMO management.
In 2009, Kenya enacted Biosafety Act and established National Biosafety Authority in 2010 and in 2012 banned GMOs imports.
Uganda as well passed National Biotechnology and Biosafety Police in 2008 and parliament passed a Bill on the same that was rejected by President twice in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
In the same regard, Tanzania ratified Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) research with a strict clause on liability.
WHY ARE UGANDANS ARE CONCERNED IN THIS FIGHT.
After 10-year ban of GMOs in neighboring Kenya, it was lifted for importation and distribution which shook neighboring states as it is said ‘When a neighbor sneezes, you catch a cold’.
Many questions then arose, some of these were,
Will this move solve food access problem in East Africa?
Won’t its effect cross and impact Ugandans?
Won’t the move introduce GMO hegemony? and others.
This was followed by a meeting in Kenya where different stakeholders with interest in safety of food system across East Africa gathered to deliberate on the effective approaches in which they can safeguard the food chain.
Presenting proceedings of the meeting in Nairobi, Dr. Murongo Marius Flarian stressed that they resolved to re -affirm remarkable value of indigenous seeds and food systems for food safety and that GMOs commercialization in the region stands to threaten smallholder farmers and consumers at large.
These resolved that they should lobby for core advocacy, introduce Anti-GMO Bills, media visibility, continuous intentional petitions, undertake research into the matter, use courts of law and other possible ways.
Dr. Mulongo went on to inform that they should involve governments of respective countries, Legislators, farmer organizations, academia, CSOs, media, religious and cultural leaders and others if their fight is to succeed.
In a bid to have amalgamated efforts, Kawere Patrick a principle farmers from Kasanda told this website that they are in the process teaming up in different districts, come up with write-ups stating their position on GMOs and later compel their Members of Parliament to sign in support of the same till the matter is executed.
He says they are willing to withdraw their support from their MPs in case they fail to endorse their position on GMOs.
He added that they are also planning to have a peaceful demonstration against GMOs where farmers from different districts will be matching peacefully showing their dissatisfaction the matter.