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December 3rd, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

The Ugandan Parliament yesterday approved a bill to regulate genetically modified organisms that has scientists skeptical the technology will ever reach the smallholder farmers it is intended to help.

“Once bitten, twice shy,” said plant biotechnologist Dr. Andrew Kiggundu in reference to last year’s events, when Parliament passed the bill, but President Museveni declined to adopt it into law.

Instead, the president returned it to Parliament over a “few areas” he wanted clarified. After more than a year of political wrangling, legislators went on to rename the bill and insert “restraining clauses” that concern researchers like Kiggundu.

“I have no problem with the title,” he said. But the agronomist, who championed development of biotech in Uganda and co-started lab work to create a GM banana, said clauses related to strict liablity for researchers, labelling GMOs and isolation distances between crops “clearly inhibited biotechnology.” Read more