July 17, 2013

Ugandan Scientists Attacked Over Anti GMO Campaign

Ugandan scientists have come under intense criticism for alleged failure to provide sufficient and relevant information about Genetically Modified Organisms-GMOs.

Victoria Sekitoleko says
Victoria Sekitoleko says scientists should disseminate information that can be understood by everyone

GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. They include micro-organisms such as insects, plants, yeast, fish, and mammals. The technique is used in scientific research to produce goods other than food.

Ugandan experts are particularly blamed for their alleged silence on genetically modified organisms. The critics say that even when some pieces of information have been availed, they are too complicated for ordinary Ugandans to understand.

Victoria Sekitoleko, a former minister of Agriculture is among those who are not taking the failure by the scientists lightly. She explains that because of the silence, many people were already consuming imported GMO products such as fruits, unaware of its health implications.

Sekitoleko says scientists needed to disseminate information that could be understood by everyone including market vendors who she said are crucial in distributing such products.

Jacob Wangolo, the Bunyole County West MP in Butaleja district concedes that he has not bothered to inform his voters about GMO saying he is less informed about the subject. He says that he would end up confusing his electorate when he attempts to pass over information he personally doesn’t understand. He says that the only information available about GMOs is the negative side of the technique.

Benny Namugwanya Bugembe, the Mubende district Woman MP says there are many people who are taking advantage of the absence of clear, simple information on GMO to spread propaganda intended to incite the public against the GMO products. She says the campaigners, who she identified as sections of the civil society were using radio and short message services by telecommunication companies to drive their campaign. Bugembe explains that MPs are being targeted by anti GMO campaigners.

Dr Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, the Director of National Agricultural Research Laboratories admits that scientists have not helped the situation. He explains how he has personally failed on occasions to provide correct information on GMOs after encountering debates on the subject especially on radio talk shows.

Tushemeirerwe explains that GMO is a necessary technology that would help scientists develop drought and disease resistant crops among other benefits. The debate on Genetically Modified Organism is presently attracting much attention in Uganda especially after parliament tabled the Bio safety and Biotechnology Bill that among other things is supposed to regulate GMO in the country.

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