Legislators from the ruling National Resistance Movement party have endorsed the controversial National Biotechnology and Biosafety bill, 2012.
The decision was reached in a caucus meeting convened on Monday night in the conference center in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The legislators adopted a recommendation by the Science and Technology committee of Parliament that all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that are imported into the country are labeled as a requirement to be sold on the market.
The bill which was tabled in Parliament in February 2013 by Denis Hamson Obua, the Ajuri County MP, seeks to provide for development and general release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Uganda.
It further provides for a regulatory framework to facilitate safe development and application of biotechnology in modern agriculture.
It however stalled after MPs disagreed on the use of GMOs’ prompting Parliament to direct them to consult with their constituents on the matter.
Addressing the media at Parliament yesterday, Obua, who is also the NRM caucus spokesperson, said the decision to label GMO products will allay fears from some sections of the public that GMOs will be smuggled into the country unknowingly.
The Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa further says that the Uganda Science and Technology Council will be mandated to regulate and promote safe development and use of bio-technology in Uganda through the promotion and use of science and biotechnology in modern agriculture.
The proposed law has faced stiff resistance from anti-GMO proponents, who contend that the use of genetic modification technology in agricultural production may endanger organic farming and instead promote the interests of foreign companies dealing in GMOs.
They further contend that the interests of the farmers have been ignored in favor of transnational companies that deal in GMOs.
Obua however says emphasis will be placed on regulation of GMOs into the country, while also protecting the interests of farmers through safe promotion of biotechnological means of improving food production.
Parliament now awaits the committee report to be tabled before the bill is passed.