Background On Biotechnology Bill

‘Background on the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill’

 Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo

1. Introduction

The National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012 is now before the 10th Parliament for consideration and enactment. This is a highly technical Bill that for long has endured relentless highly emotive campaigns against Biotechnology and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

To enable Members appreciate the context, purpose and content of the Bill, and debate and enact the law on the basis of clarity and objective information, I have prepared this scientific background information that frames and contextualizes the Bill.

I have done this not because some foreign entity is paying me to enact the law as some claim about MPs. HELL NO! Those who know Prof. Latigo well know that this can never be the case. I am doing this because this Bill is necessitated by the needs of our country that we as Parliamentarians are obligated under the Constitution to address by enacting appropriate laws.

More importantly, I saw the potential of Molecular Biology as long ago as the late-1980s when I was winding up my Ph.D. studies at the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi. In 1996, as an Academic in Makerere University, I became the Focal Point on Biotechnology and a Founding Member of the National Biosafety Committee of the National Council for Science and Technology. I served the Council for 10 years (part of it when I was an MP in the 7th Parliament), and only resigned in 2006 when I became the Leader of Opposition.

In the 10 years, we supported Biotechnology capacity development for Uganda through graduate training and supporting establishment of dedicated Biotech Laboratories. With progress, we developed the National Biotechnology Policy and early drafts of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill.

I am therefore deeply obligated to the country to inform and enlighten Members, and to do whatever I can to ensure that…

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