GENET archive


6-Regulation: Biotech draft guidelines now ready in Uganda

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Biotech Draft Guidelines Now Ready
SOURCE: The Monitor, Uganda, by Wamboga-Mugirya
DATE:   7 Jul 2004

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Biotech Draft Guidelines Now Ready

A draft policy with guidelines on the conduct of biotechnology in Uganda
is ready. Dr Charles Mugoya, a senior official at the National Council of
Science and Technology (UNCS&T), said the draft documents - the policy
and proposed regulatory draft framework - will be handed to cabinet by August.

"We now have a road-map which has given us some time-frame in which to
pass over a final draft to the cabinet. We are saying that cabinet will
receive the draft in the next two months," he said.

The policy draft contains, among other key components; procedures for
risk-assessment and risk management of Genetically Modified Organism
(GMOs); administrative and institutional frameworks for public
participation and awareness.

Dr Mugoya who is the head of the National Bio-Safety Framework Project,
said: "We have been engaging politicians, the academia, the media and
interested civil society organisations, in discussions on which
biotechnology direction Uganda should take."

He said that the UNCS&T has been working around the clock since 1995 to
ensure that Uganda is not overtaken by events in the biotechnology and
genetic modification science - a topical issue in most countries today.

In 1996, a bio-safety committee was formed and it has been guiding UNCS&T
on steps to arrive at the national policy and regulatory frameworks on
biotechnology. Currently, Uganda has no guidelines on biotechnology and
particularly GMOs.

There have been strong anti-GMOs criticisms from outspoken
environmentalists who fear they may contaminate Uganda's soils, affect
the natural state of plants, especially crops and indigenous animals.

However, to agro-scientists at Makerere University say GMOs are good for
food security in Uganda, which has a high birth rate and inequality in
food availability. President Museveni has said government will not allow
importation of genetically modified seeds, into Uganda.

The debate on genetically modified foods has in recent times caused
sunctions and counter-sanctions between the United States and Europe.


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