By Mariam Mayet
We have in the past, commented on several drafts of Uganda‘s biosafety law and will not repeat the issues canvassed therein regarding the role and influence of the United States. We have been requested by civil society groups to comment on the National Biotechnology Safety Bill, 2008, approved by Uganda‘s Cabinet during April 2008.
Uganda has steadily been drawn into the GM debate over the past years. In June 2008, two short months after the cabinet approved the 2008 Bill, news broke that the first ever field trials involving GMOs in Uganda had failed dismally. The GMOs in question were GM bananas developed by the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in collaboration with the Katholic University of Leuven (KUL/Belguim) from genes isolated from rice, to increase resistance to black Sigatoka disease. The trials were supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Indeed, USAID has been extremely active in Uganda over the years, aggressively promoting the adoption of GM technology in that country. It has trained several Ugandan scientists, supplied state- of- the- art equipment and installed a level- two Biosafety Greenhouse at Kawanda.[i] USAID is also funding