By Max Patrico Ocaido
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Elioda Tumwesigye is on Wednesday (today) expected to re-table the Biosafety Bill, 2017 after President Yoweri Museveni declined to assent it.
The Bill also referred to as the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Bill was on October 4, 2017 passed by Parliament before President Museveni declined to sign it.
In his letter dated 21st December 2017 to the Speaker, Museveni asked Parliament to clarify on the title of the Bill, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals before he signs the Bill.
On Tuesday, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah ordered the minister to re-table the Bill before it is sent back to the committee on Science and Technology chaired by Nakifuma County MP Kafeero Ssekitooleko.
“I am therefore directing the minister responsible for this Bill, to come and lay on table a copy of the Bill and explain to the House the concerns of the President and thereafter, we refer it to the committee,” Oulanyah said.
Article 91(3) of the Constitution states that the President shall within thirty days; (a) assent to the Bill; (b) return the Bill to Parliament with a request that the Bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament; or (c) notify the Speaker in writing that he or she refuses to assent to the Bill.
The National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 was read the First Time on February 05, 2013, in the 9th Parliament. The Bill was referred to the Committee on Science and Technology, but it was unable to receive a Second and Third Reading during that parliament. At the dissolution of the 9th parliament, the Bill was among the pending business that was saved by the Speaker.
On July 15, 2016, the Bill was among the Business that was reinstated by the 10th Parliament in accordance with Rule 221(2) and (3) of the
Rules of Procedure of Parliament. It was subsequently referred to the same committee on 15th November 2016.