At the end of August, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni rejected for the second time a proposed biosafety bill that would have granted farmers access to genetically engineered (GE) crops. Summing up his skepticism of the legislation, Museveni argued in a letter to parliament that
[S]cientific inventions may cause harm to humans and that, this harm may not be apparent for many years. Therefore, manufacturers, inventors and introducers of genetic modified or engineered products must ensure that their products are safe and as such, accept strict liability in case the product does cause harm
The president’s trepidation about crop biotechnology has no basis in science and is largely due to the influence of Western environmental groups on African policy makers, which frustrated Ugandan researchers have repeatedly made clear:
As plant scientist Arthur Tugume pointed out in the video above, experts don’t share Museveni’s concerns about genetic engineering, because GE technology is used to produce medicine and imported food Ugandans already consume. Critics of genetic engineering have attempted to obfuscate this fact by claiming that GE crops represent some (so-far undiscovered) apocalyptic danger to humanity, while ignoring the real risks that go with rejecting the use of genetic engineering in agriculture.
If the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eliminate hunger and poverty are to be met by 2030, Africa will need every tool of modern agriculture, including GE and gene-edited crops bred with CRISPR and other new breeding techniques (NBTs). It is time for African nations to leave the fear-based myths behind and embrace technology for the betterment of the continent. Read more …