Newly passed Biosafety and Biotechnology Bill in Uganda

01 Jan 1970

Now that the Biotechnology Bill has been passed into law, pending approval by the President, we have good reason to worry for the future of food in our country, once the pearl of Africa; Uganda. For many years, Africa has been a testing ground for dubious technologies because we tend to forget the intrinsic wealth we have and favor external inputs and forces us to accept the influence of corporations and governments with ambitions of power and profit. Hence GMOs.

Uganda is a country gifted by nature with a rich food biodiversity and appeasing climate, but with this latest move the government is promoting aggressive technology for the expansion of multinationals and an ongoing neocolonialism spearheaded by a few large corporations, foreign countries and foundations that seek to control the word’s food production.


An hybrid banana variety called Phere made by the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL)

The excitement about yields that we hear from GMO advocates will not last long, once people realize that farmers rights to seeds and other genetic resources in planting materials is under threat, compromised by the prospect corporate ownership of those same seeds which had been protected and proliferated by farming and indigenous communities for millennia.

The reality is we may get excited about improving the yields and nutrient content of bananas with gene donated by the world’s largest owner of GMO technology and leading food speculator. But in embracing these GM bananas, we stand to lose the right to plant the 50 local banana cultivars due to strict intellectual property rights over banana genes enforced by the owners of the GM banana technology. This compromises local control of the food system. It also limits our ability to export our fruit and vegetables to markets where GMOs are banned.

Careful governments and civil society organizations like Slow Food have fought against the introduction and promotion of GMOs across the world, and in a recent landmark vote the European parliament rejected the use of biotechnology in food production. We like, them, must put the future of our people before the greed of careless scientists working for multi-national corporations and exploitative foundations.

We call upon smallholder farmers to reject GMOs on their farms, and work to resist this invasion collectively. The problems of our food system cannot be described simply in terms of quantity. Bananas still rot in fields and markets during peak season without reaching people in need. People still starve during the dry and pre-harvest seasons. The real solution lies in the promotion and nurturing of local and traditional food biodiversity, and supporting producers with better post-harvest handling mechanisms, agroecological soil rehabilitation, techniques to reverse land degradation in fragile ecosystems, proper seed selection and infrastructure in rural communities.

Slow Food Uganda continues to embrace, practice and disseminate agroecological practices as the legitimate solution to the problems facing our food system and works on initiatives that defend the non-renewable wealth of food biodiversity under threat from GMOs. In order to ensure that we are able to pass on this invaluable heritage of biodiversity to future generations we must support, preserve and jealously defend our rich local food culture from the invasion of patented genes, an invasion which would turn us from independent farmers into the unwilling customers of a few powerful agri-business corporations.


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