Slow Food’s call to reject the GMO Bill has yielded results: President Museveni wants the Bill changed before signing it
On December 19, 2017, Slow Food sent a press release after the GMO Bill* was approved by the Ugandan Parliament on October 4, 2017. The Bill was thereafter sent to the President, Yoweri Museveni, for his approval.
In an extraordinary turn of events, it seems that the points raised by Slow Food aroused some concerns in President Museveni, bringing him to write a letter to the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament. In this letter, he lists some points and clauses that he asks to be considered and reviewed by the Parliament.
While Slow Food welcomes the President’s justified doubts and concerns regarding the Bill, it urges all actors in Uganda to reject the legalization of GMOs, which would put the country’s rich and unique biodiversity at risk. Slow Food Uganda and Slow Food International demand a rerun of the public consultation regarding the Bill within Ugandan civil society and with all stakeholders, and that the revised text of the Bill be sent back to the President and made available for public discussion and consultation before being tabled again for discussion in Parliament. The future of food concerns us all, from the President down to the small-scale farmer, and on such a vital matter it is imperative that the voice of democracy rings louder than corporate interests.
Some of President Museveni’s questions to the Parliament regarding the GMO Bill:
- The President talks about the importance of the country’s “ancient crops and livestock with unique genetic configuration” and with a “specific genetic makeup which Ugandan people have developed for millennia through selection”. The use of genetic engineering would necessarily involve the introduction of additional genetic qualities and the law would give a monopoly of patent rights to the proprietors of this new genetic material, at the expense of the communities that originally developed it. President Museveni wants instead to give credit to the “original preservers, developers and multipliers”.
- The President wants to make clear that there should be no cross-pollination between GMO seeds and indigenous Ugandan seeds. The law should clarify that “greenhouses will be used to imprison the pollen of the GMO seeds or distances should be stipulated so that there is no mix-up”. In addition, “effluent from the GMO material should never mix with Ugandan organic materials”.
- The President demands that the use of “poisons and dangerous bacteria, as the inputs in genetic engineering” be banned.
- The President asks for clear labelling of any GM products, with severe punishments for non-compliance.
- The President asks the Minister of Agriculture to create a catalogue (or, as he calls it, an Ark) of all Ugandan unique indigenous material (for plants and animals) which “will be kept uncontaminated with any GMO in case there would be a crisis within the modernization efforts”.
- The President asks to change the Bill’s title, such that it clearly refers to genetically-modified agriculture rather than the vague, meaningless “Bio-Safety” as originally proposed.
*The National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill is more commonly known as the ‘GMO Bill‘, since it ignores other forms of Biotechnology and concentrates on GMOs only, and in fact is a thinly-veiled legalization of the productions of GMOs, and which would make Uganda only the second country on the continent (after South Africa) to allow their cultivation.
For further information please contact:
Slow Food International Press Office
Paola Nano, Giulia Capaldi
[email protected] – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress
Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members is linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide, contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize. As part of the network, more than 2,400 Terra Madre food communities practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.