Uganda plant breeders working at national institutions are using genetic engineering to breed crops that are resistant to pests and diseases
A principal state attorney in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has called for flexibility in the drafting of the National Biotechnology & Biosafety Bill 2012.
The Bill that has already been tabled in Parliament is still under scrutiny with groups calling for amendments especially in relation to fines and penalties.
Harriet Ityang presenting a paper Understanding the Scope and Relevance of the Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill at a media BioCafe at the Uganda National Farmers Federation in Nakasero on Friday, said the bill should be designed to spur innovation not curtail it.
"Prohibitive fines and punishment being suggested by some groups will deter innovation in the technology," she said.
Another guest at the Biocafe, Prof. Ogenga Latigo, a pest entomologist and MP elect Agago North, called upon Ugandans to have faith in local scientists.
"Me as a scientist would like to give assurance that we would not do anything that is not in the interest of Uganda," he said.
Uganda plant breeders working at national institutions are using genetic engineering to breed crops that are resistant to pests and diseases. Others have had their nutrition value enhanced.
The main crops under focus include bananas, cassava, maize and rice. Plant breeders at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories at Kawanda have already bred a banana resistant to Banana Bacteria Wilt using genetic engineering.
Their colleagues at the National Crops Resources Research Institute, Namulonge have also bred a cassava variety resistant to Cassava Brown Streak Disease at the National Crops Resources Research Institute, Namulonge.
The monthly media café is organised by the Science Foundation for Livelihood and Development (SCIFODE). It is aimed at closing the gap between scientists and media.
Ityang said the bill was a fulfillment of the Cartegena Protocol of which Uganda is a signatory. The protocol calls countries to put in place legislation to handle, and use of living modified organism also known as genetic modified organism and their transportation.