(Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri
Museveni declined to sign a bill into law which allows
genetically modified organisms (GMO) into the country, a
parliament spokesperson said Friday.
spokesperson of the Ugandan parliament, told Xinhua by telephone
on Friday that Museveni has returned the National Biotechnology
and Biosafety Bill 2017 to the speaker of parliament, Rebecca
Kadaga, for lawmakers to make reviews and amendments.
In a letter to the speaker last week, Museveni said the use
of the GMO crops will contaminate the indigenous ones which
Ugandan farmers have developed for years.
"This law apparently talks of giving monopoly of patent
rights to its adder and forgets about the communities that
developed original material.
"This is wrong," Museveni said.
"To be on the safe side, GMO seeds should never be randomly
mixed with our indigenous seeds just in case they turn out to
have a problem," he said.
The constitution of the East African country empowers the
president to approve the bill, or return it to the parliament
for reconsideration and notify the parliament speaker in writing
of the refusal.
The law passed by lawmakers in October provided a regulatory
framework that would facilitate the safe development and
application of biotechnology, research, development and release
It also established institutions that would regulate and
promote the usage of biotechnology in a bid to modernize
agriculture and environmental protection, as well as enhance
public health and industrialization.
After the parliament passed the bill in October, Elioda
Tumwesigye, minister of science, technology and innovation, told
reporters it was critical that the country enact a biosafety law
to protect its borders from unauthorized entry of GMOs and to
protect the public from consuming unsafe biotechnology products.
He said the move could also support scientists to fully and
safely utilize their advanced knowledge and capabilities in
biotechnology to help solve contemporary challenges especially
in health, agriculture, industry and environment.
A parliamentary committee that scrutinized the bill before it
was passed argued that GMOs have been used in Uganda with no
There is a heated debate globally over the use of GMOs, with
proponents arguing that those organisms have the potential to
boost food, fuel and fiber production, which will accelerate
economic growth and foreign exchange earnings.
Opponents of the law argue that since the technology comes
from developed countries, there are varied interests which may
be veiled with ill intentions.
Scientists argue that the enactment of the law now paves the
way for extending their trials to the field instead of being
limited to working within their institutions' boundaries