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September 2nd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

As Ugandan researchers progress in breeding genetically modified (GM)  disease-resistant cassava, they are requesting permission to create permanent demonstration gardens of the improved crops. The goal is to ensure continuous documentation of the ongoing cassava research and also provide a place where people can see GM plants. However, the request by National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) scientists still must be submitted to and approved by the National Biosafety Committee, which regulates research and products involving genetic engineering.Meanwhile, elected councilors from the Mbale district in Eastern Uganda visited NaCRRI’s confined field trials for GM cassava developed under the Virus Resistant and Nutritionally Enhanced cassava for Africa (VIRCA Plus) project to see how scientists are working to overcome the devastating effects of cassava viral diseases.Mafabi Mohamad, the speaker of the Mbale District Local Government Council, noted that the “cassava diseases that researchers have addressed here are the very ones that impact on us directly. Cassava used to be our staple food crop, but farmers are abandoning it.” Unless cassava is restored as a staple food, there will be a food security problem, he said. Read more…