The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) has praised President Yoweri Museveni for rejecting the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act.
Museveni early this month refused to sign into law the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill also known as Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Bill, for the second time, saying his earlier concerns of December 2017 have not been addressed.
AFSA, which is an alliance of networks of African smallholder farmers, fisher folk, pastoralists, hunter-gatherers and consumers, strongly associated themselves with the President’s concerns in a statement released on Friday.
“We recognize and assure you that the concerns you raise that ‘the issue of GMOs and genetic modification of our seeds and livestock touches not only on Science but Agriculture, Ecology, Food and National Security and, indeed, the sovereignty of our nation’ are valid,” said the alliance.
AFSA noted that Museveni has added his voice to a rising tide of concern about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in other countries within and beyond Africa.
“The government of Zimbabwe recently declared its continued stand against introducing GMOs in their country with a major concern on their impact on the environment.
The government of the Republic of Kenya has also continued to maintain its ban on any importation of GMOs and Burkina Faso is yet to recover from the GM Cotton fiasco that has caused insurmountable losses to farmers,” added ASFA.
The Alliance particularly lauded four concerns Museveni raised to Parliament.
Strict Liability which they say will protect peasant farmers by ensuring that manufacturers, inventors and introducers of genetic modified or engineered products must ensure that their products are safe and as such, accept strict liability in case the product does cause harm.
The use of Glyphosate by farmers in Uganda and other parts of the continent to protect fertile soils from chemical contamination should continue.
Another concern is the call to proceed with caution on GE technology including gene editing and other modern biotechnology methods which are still the subject of much debate around the world.
“We recognize that Africa is gradually being introduced to new and untested biotechnologies involving gene editing and gene silencing. This is a real threat in countries like South Africa and Nigeria,” said AFSA.
The concern that the commercial interests promoting genetic engineering need to be balanced against the need to protect the ordinary Ugandan Citizen from real and potential harm has also been applauded.
“Health and well-being rather than profit, must be our primary concern,” said AFSA. “AFSA doesn’t