During 2001, Uganda embarked on a national agricultural biotechnology programme focusing on the several transformative biotechnology innovations, and genetic engineering (GE). This programme is linked to Uganda’s policy to eradicate poverty by 2015, described in its Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). PEAP is Uganda’s overarching macro-economic framework, designed to transform Uganda into a modern economy.

PEAP has been developed within the context already established by structural adjustment policies put in place in Uganda since 1987, which has led inter alia, to the liberalisation of the seed production and supply sector. The opening of the seed industry has resulted in the influx of foreign seed companies that supply hybrid seed to farmers. PEAP sets out two groups of actions, which it sees as directly increasing the ability of the poor to raise their incomes and improve their quality of life:

  1. The radical transformation of rural communities from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture
  2. A Plan for the modernisation of Agriculture (PAM). The uptake of GE is an integral part of PAM.

During 2003, the National Council for Science and Technology developed a National Policy on Biotechnology and Biosafety (PBB) wherein it describes a vision of making Uganda a country that safely utilises biotechnology, including GE, within the framework provided by PEAP.

The PBB forms one component of the Ugandan National Biosafety Framework (NBF), with the other components comprising:

  • Draft National Biosafety Regulations, October 2003 (Document 38: Revised Draft Biosafety Regulations);
  • Guidelines on Biosafety in Biotechnology for Uganda, March 2002 (Uganda National Council for Science and Technology);
  • A Manual on the Protection of Confidential Business Information in Uganda (undated) and
  • Manual on Transboundary Movement of GMOs in Uganda, (Submitted by Dr John Bananuka, NFRD).

Uganda is a Party to the Convention on the Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Biological Diversity (CBD), and it has ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol) as long ago as the November 2001. The drafting of the NBF has to a large extent, been enabled by Uganda?s participation in the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Project (Implementation Phase). The development of the current draft Biosafety Regulations were in particular, influenced by Patricia Traynor, a consultant appointed by USAID, Thomas Carrato, Associate General Counsel-Global Regulatory Law & Stewardship Monsanto, Johan Komen from ISNAR, Muffy Koch from Innovation Biotechnology, David Heron from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Piet van der Meer from the UNEP-GEF project.

All of these people, submitted comments on the draft of the Uganda Biosafety law (draft regulations) which was primarily based on the African Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology (African Model Law). During 12-15 October 2003, at the Jinja Nile Resort, Uganda, the draft regulations, together with the set of comments received by the people named above, were debated at a workshop convened especially for this purpose.

It was then, that the draft based on the African Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology, was completely torn apart and the groundwork laid, for the current biosafety regulations to be drafted. A Manual On The Protection Confidential Business Information In Uganda. Read here.

A Manual On Transboundary Movement Of Gmos Into Uganda. Read here.