The United States Embassy in Uganda has expressed disappointment over President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s refusal to assent the controversial Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill into law for the second time.
“[It is] disappointing to hear that the future of the Genetically Engineered Regulatory Act (GMO bill) is still in doubt. Government officials and stakeholders should have a science-based dialogue to resolve differences,” the US Embassy in Kampala said in a statement on its official Facebook page.
It adds: “This technology has the potential to help Ugandan farmers greatly up their crop yield, feed millions, and improve livelihoods. We remain committed to working with Ugandan scientists and the government to support the development of biotech crops to ensure food security and the economic prosperity of Ugandans.”
The bill which was previously known as The National Biotechnology and Bio Safety Bill 2012 was first rejected by the president in 2017 in which he raised 12 issues that required improvement.
In a letter to Parliament read by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga this week, Museveni refused again to assent to the bill and instead suggested a number of proposals that need to be addressed for the benefit of scientists and community.
“As I said this situation is very interesting because he has written to me and now proposing a number of clauses, additional clauses that weren’t in his original bill,” Kadaga said.
The President’s letter read in part, “I would like to thank all the various stakeholders who have contributed to the development of this law I however regret to inform you that I reject the law in its current form, I am unable to ascent to it for reasons I elaborate in this letter.”
Kadaga said that among the issues that the President wants addressed include benefit sharing between the breeder, inventor and indigenous communities, scope of the law, isolation measures, use of poisons and dangerous enzymes and bacteria, strict liability among others.
The President cautioned Parliament to proceed reviewing of the bill with caution and include the necessary safe guards in the law, blaming Parliament’s failure to consider his earlier recommendations when the bill was returned on MPs’ narrow interpretation of Parliament procedure which saw lawmakers delete a number of clauses that were debated on the floor.
“Some of the critical issues I raised in my previous communication haven’t been fully addressed. The issue of GMOs and genetic modification of our seeds, livestock and now I hear GMO mosquitoes that’s not only science, ecology and agriculture which are a risk to national security, food security and sovereignty of our nation,” read in part Museveni’s letter.
Kadaga noted that even though upon its second rejection parliament only needed to table laid the bill so that it becomes law they have been presented with a new situation which she says she will allow the prime minister to re -table before the 11th September 2019.