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December 5th, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

Though Uganda’s Parliament passed a biosafety bill last week, it remains unclear whether it will benefit a coalition of young cassava farmers who are demanding access to genetically modified (GM) crops.

Some Ugandan scientists have said the bill’s strict liability clause will effectively stifle the research and commercial release of crops that government researchers developed to address the nation’s agricultural woes.

The current state of affairs has frustrated young farmers who are trying to make a living from agriculture, but facing serious disease pressures that limit cassava yields.

“The time agriculture was considered as an activity for the poor and the elderly is in the past,” said young cassava farmer George Semwanga. “Agriculture is now practiced as a business and a good number of youth are coming on board.”

The cassava growers belong to the Young Farmers’ Association, which is under the umbrella of the Uganda National Farmers Federation. They represent 10 different districts, mainly in central Uganda where cassava has been hard-hit by the brown streak and mosaic viruses.

They called upon activists to stop giving wrong information about the biotechnology law to Uganda’s President Museveni, saying their efforts to block GMO products are harming farmers who are trying to improve their standard of living. Read more