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Researchers seek permission to set up permanent GM cassava demos

By Prossy Nandudu

Added 20th August 2019 01:45 PM

NBC is a state organ mandated to regulate all research activities in plants, diseases like it is for malaria and GMO mosquitos, including the issuance of permits to foreign researchers and related materials that come to Uganda among others.

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Titus Alica Mugoya (right) getting ready to plant GM cassava in Namulonge. Photo by Prossy Nandudu

NBC is a state organ mandated to regulate all research activities in plants, diseases like it is for malaria and GMO mosquitos, including the issuance of permits to foreign researchers and related materials that come to Uganda among others.

AGRICULTURE

WAKISO - As the search for cassava varieties resistant to the brown steak and mosaic disease nears completion, breeders are seeking permission from the National Biosafety Committee (NBC), under the Ugandan National Council for Science and Technology to set up permanent demonstration gardens.

This will ensure continuous demonstration of how the new varieties that were developed through genetic engineering look like for those who still want to understand more about genetically engineered crops.

NBC is a state organ mandated to regulate all research activities in plants, diseases like it is for malaria and GMO mosquitos, including the issuance of permits to foreign researchers and related materials that come to Uganda among others.

Currently, all materials from demonstration gardens are destroyed through burning after harvest and analyzed through the laboratories as per the NBC requirements, leaving the fields bear.

The aim is to make sure that nobody takes out of the demonstration gardens such materials before the research is concluded.

The call was made by the head of the root crops program at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) Dr. Titus Alicai, during the planting of final materials of genetically modified Cassava that are resistant to the cassava brown streak and mosaic diseases in Namulonge on Friday.

“The materials were harvested the previous Friday, in the presence of farmers from Nakasongola district. A team from NBC, from where resistant materials were selected and were replanted on Friday to get the cassava resistant to the two diseases,” Alicai explained.

“We are replanting materials harvested last week, from that experiment. We looked at data and identified 13 varieties that didn’t show any symptoms of the diseases.  Now we are including five other varieties that are susceptible as a control measure, to show us if they can resist,” he said.

Alicai added that it is an important stage in research that needs continuous documentation because of the increasing number of people going to the station to abreast themselves with the latest development in crop research.

In response, the chairman of the NBC, Dr.Charles Mugoya, advised NaCRRI to officially write to the council, justifying the need for demo for consideration.

He, however, said once permission is granted, this particular demo shouldn’t be far from the field trails because GM technology is yet to be spread.

Mugoya also advised NaCRRI to collect and record data from all visitors to the station taking note of different institutions and organizations as numbers could also contribute to the speedy formulation of the law regulating this particular research.

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