By Max Patrico Ocaido
Some members of parliament opposed to the Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) Bill have vowed to devote more time to prayers to fail the controversial Bill.
While addressing a press conference on Friday, Bufumbira East County MP Nsaba Buturo and David Abala, Ngora County MP who are both prayer warriors at Parliament said that they will not only reject the Bill when it's returned, but also pray to God to cause confusion in the chambers.
"We shall not only reject this Bill on the floor of Parliament, but we shall pray to God that when this Bill is brought to Parliament, there will be confusion in the House so that it doesn't succeed," Abala said.
Abala blamed the responsible committee for not doing due diligence during the stakeholders’ meetings saying that the committee visited more foreign countries than the districts (5) in Uganda.
He urged that Ugandans do not need GMOs as a means to achieve food security or even maximum production, but urged government to invest in agriculture other than rely on genetically modified foods which he said are expensive.
“Recently UBOs released statistics that stated that 11million Ugandans can't touch Shs1,000 at the end of month. Now where will such people get money to buy these seeds? If we made a mistake by passing this law then eventually we would have made a big mistake. Eating lots of GMOs could be the reason we are having problems with our intestines. These GMOs should go back to US,” Abala said.
Former minister of Ethics and Integrity, Buturo said that Parliament made a big mistake to pass the Bill in October last year because there was even no quorum. He lauded President Yoweri Museveni for recently refusing to assent to the Bill and urged fellow MPs to rally against the Bill which was on Thursday re-tabled by Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Elioda Tumwesigye.
“The fact of the matter is that GMO policies would not be interests of Ugandans. We urge parliamentarians in particular and Ugandans in general to reject GMOs. The latter’s benefits, if any, are outweighed by its risks to humans, animals, crops and Uganda’s sovereignty. Legalization of GMOs would invite other dire consequences for Ugandans,” Buturo said.
He added, “We hope that the so-called Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill will not see the light of day since it would gravely undermine organic farming in Uganda, threaten our security, integrity, sovereignty and health.”
Already, in Argentina which is the world’s third producer of GMO crops, doctors there are raising concerns about higher than average rates of cancer and birth defects they suspect are related to pesticides.
In 2015, European member states voted by majority to block cultivation of new GMOs within their borders while Russia put a ban on cultivation and imports of the same.
On 3rd and 4th October, 2017, MPs debated and controversially passed the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 also referred to as GMO Bill.
However, President Museveni declined to sign the Bill into law and on 21st December 2017, wrote to the Speaker, asking 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 could sign the Bill. The Bill is expected to be returned to the committee on Science and Technology chaired by Nakifuma County MP Kafeero Ssekitooleko.
According to Nsaba Buturo, minister Tumwesigye erroneously referred the GMOs Bill as the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill so as to confuse the public about the unpopular GMO policies.