Banner

News

Last November, the National Agricultural Research Organization (Naro) took concrete steps towards beating off any opposition to the draft bio-technology and bio-safety legislation, commonly referred to as GMO Bill, The Observer has learnt.

Naro wrote to the NGO board complaining about several non-governmental organisations and civil society groups opposed to the bill. The Observer has learnt that many critical NGOs risk being de-registered following  Naro's letter. Naro also complained to Makerere University about some of its lecturers, who had taken to demonizing the bill.

The activists, working under a loose alliance named Food Rights Alliance, are behind a media campaign against the bill now before Parliament. Promoters of the bill want government to block the NGOs' "illegal acts."

The Naro letter, dated November 8, 2013, follows an earlier one, of May 17, 2013, by the Uganda Bio-technology and Bio-safety consortium. This particular letter, addressed to Makerere University Vice Chancellor John Ddumba-Ssentamu, urged him to act on the staff opposed to the bill. The consortium singled out Dr Giregon Olupot, a soil scientist, for his fierce opposition to the bill.

"The essence of this communication is to bring to your attention these serious issues and request you to take action on these persons to stop such illegal actions that portray Makerere University negatively," reads the consortium's letter in part. This letter was followed by another one from Naro. According to the head of bio-technology at Naro, Dr Andrew Kiggundu, the letter was not intended to cause the sacking of anyone.

"Our intention is not to have the staff dismissed but we want the university to have control over their statements because they might be construed to be the universityís official position," Dr Kiggundu said.

Radio announcements

Naro is particularly unhappy about advertisements on various radio stations across the country that it says portray the organisation negatively.

"Naro is concerned about the radio announcements that claim that we are poisoning Ugandans, we want the NGOs to substantiate these claims, we want to find out from the funders of that advert whether they have evidence," Kiggundu said.

The anti-GMO activists have been running radio adverts, facilitated by ActionAid, VEDCO (Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns) and SEATINI (Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute) calling on the electorate to lobby their MPs to reject the bill.

"Our research methods, technology testing and release are well documented; it is, therefore, shocking to hear some of the allegations aired in the mass media by some NGOs. There have been allegations that Naro technologies cause cancer and infertility. I wonder what research they have done to make this conclusion or which specific Naro technology they are referring to," read the letter, signed by Naro Director General Emily Twinamasiko, who has since passed on.

Twinamasikoís letter to the Chairman of Uganda National NGO Board lists ActionAid, Pelum Uganda (Participatory Ecological Land Use Management), ESAFF (Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmersí Forum), VEDCO, SEATINI and CAPCA ñ which are known to be critical of the bill.

"As an agency of government, our outputs are monitored by the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and the Office of the Prime Minister. I don't know whether any of these NGOs get clearance from any of these authorities to make such statements." he wrote.

"I request you to warn these NGOs to desist from sabotaging government programmes and disadvantaging Ugandans in accessing improved technologies through broadcast of false and scary information. You should also task them to provide evidence for their pronouncements," Twinamasiko added.

ActionAid's advert is said to have infuriated government the most, especially because it criticized Naro for piloting GMOs even before the passing of the bill. But the NGOs insist they have done nothing wrong.

"The advert is telling the electorate to urge their leaders not to pass the bill in its current form and ask for a law that takes into consideration non-GMO alternatives. We believe that Ugandans need information, and we are creating this awareness because policy formulation should involve the common people," says ActionAidís Fredrick Kawooya.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments

 
+6 #1 Xi Jiping 2014-01-15 08:27
It is interesting that NARO's methods closely mirror those of Monsanto, which has variously caused the sacking of people who are critical to its practices.

Dr Kiggundu's arguments that the lecturers may appear to speak for Makerere is very weak. Then NARO goes on to claim it is regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture. Very funny.

They do mean of course by three civil servants who understand nothing but seminars and per diem! And then they deploy the whole stick about "frustrating government programs". Code word of course for "anti-government" and "opposition". Very funny. Very sad.

Yes it quacks like a duck. It is surely telling that NARO and others have to resort to the use of force...
Quote
 
 
+9 #2 Francis Ogojo Okello 2014-01-15 10:09
NARO's letter and language language is abhorring. Issues surrounding GMOs are matters of intellectual debate. Educate and not dictate.

The GMO industry is very profitable, but there is relational evidence about GMOs and their negative effects on health, particularly food allergies. In the US, a lot of people are resorting to organic foods though expensive, and the stores that sell those foods are making a lot of money.

GMOs increase productivity and disease resistant crops but the engineering around GMOs is still questionable. I'd prefer that NARO also conducts research and educates the public on how to preserve some of the old seeds cropped by our ancestors.

Info sources on GMOs for interested readers: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_11361.cfm; http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/; http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/12/13/health-concerns-over-gmos-distract-consumers-from-the-real-problem-of-monoculture/
Quote
 
 
+7 #3 The informer 2014-01-15 10:24
Do yourselves a favor Ugandan & politicians and watch a documentary called Food Inc by Micheal Moore, same guy who made that famous document Fahrenheit 9/11.

You will see what Mosanto has done to farming in the USA with its GMOs. It owns Everything agriculture related in the USA, they're so powerful and control all the seeds farmers plant. The saying is that "once you control the food supply, you control the people".
Quote
 
 
+4 #4 kimbowarichard 2014-01-15 10:31
Let the debate go on (as Parliament allowed) rather than muzzling views and opinions
Quote
 
 
+5 #5 Kalani Jonathan 2014-01-15 12:09
To hell with GMO
Quote
 
 
+6 #6 Betty Long Cap 2014-01-15 12:56
GMOs is big business but don't let Monsanto ruin Ugandan agriculture. A seed ought to be able to reproduce itself.
Quote
 
 
0 #7 Rebecca Nesbit 2014-01-15 16:55
But if the NGO is stating speculation as fact should this be allowed? You would never allow a company to state 'facts' about GM unless they had evidence.

I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts about anti-GM NGOs on my recent blog post:
https://gmfromthefence.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/what-is-evidence/
Quote
 
 
+1 #8 mukasa 2014-01-15 22:21
A Taste of the bullying uganda farmers will have to experience when the gmo bill is passed and funders of the bill start legally enforcing their so called intellectual property.

NARO's funding will be reduce to a minimum so that only funders of the bill can produce required crops (drought resistant, faster maturing) that are currently freely available to any ugandan farmer when released by kawanda, namulonge etc.

Our mps shud read about cotton farmers in the india, who are in the tentacles of gmo promoting companies in India commit suicide to escape the monster of monsato...www.globalresearch.ca/the-seeds-of-suicide-how-monsanto-destroys-farming/5329947
Quote
 
 
0 #9 mukasa 2014-01-15 23:20
In good number of industrialised countries gmo are banned just the US where a company that through well connected lobbyist are gmo cultivated/raised and even there not every one is keen on gmo Japan,switzerla nd, saudi arabia and other countries opposed to gmo have the technical know to assess the risk posed by gmo and have banned gmo on their territory.

There is a risk of our country becoming dependent on foreign entity for our food security as we are currently at the mercy of oil producing countries.

No to gmo yes to uganda's independence passing gmo bill will be setting us back colonial times except this time being ruled by a seed and agrochemical company which will be controlling our food production.
Quote
 
 
0 #10 mukasa 2014-01-16 08:56
In good number of industrialised countries gmo are banned just the US where a company that through well connected lobbyist are gmo cultivated/raised and even there not every one is keen on gmo Japan,switzerla nd, saudi arabia and other countries opposed to gmo have the technical know to assess the risk posed by gmo and have banned gmo on their territory.

There is a risk of our country becoming dependent on foreign entity for our food security as we are currently at the mercy of oil producing countries.

No to gmo yes to uganda's independence passing gmo bill will be setting us back colonial times except this time being ruled by a seed and agrochemical company which will be controlling our food production.
Quote
 
 
+1 #11 Betty Long Cap 2014-01-16 10:52
Monsanto is modern day imperialism.
Quote
 
 
0 #12 Betty Long Cap 2014-01-16 11:03
Quoting mukasa:
No to gmo yes to uganda's independence passing gmo bill will be setting us back colonial times except this time being ruled by a seed and agrochemical company which will be controlling our food production.


Total agreement, mukasa. Monsanto lobbyists are using high pressure gentle persuasion with MPs. The people must say NO!
Quote
 
 
+2 #13 CSBAG 2014-01-16 12:30
Why is NARO acting irrational. NARO needs to stick to the people-centered proposals that Civil society is introducing into the debate rather than making this political
Quote
 
 
+1 #14 Burite Joseph 2014-01-16 20:42
The debate is massive. But, the anti-gmo lobby is playing unfair. While GMO researchers go as many as ten years conducting tests and making sure that their products are risk free, the anti-GMO lobby just runs around with deformed pictures of rats downloaded from the internet.

If this is what we call people-centered policy making, then I doubt we know what we are doing. And does anyone know where Actionaid gets funding for these campaigns?
Quote
 
 
0 #15 mukasa 2014-01-16 22:32
@burite" GMOs are risk free" hmm why do you think drug regulatory authorities world over require post market surveilance of approved drugs because their is always risk of unwanted effects of drug showing up which weren't detectable in lab.

Since GMOs involve modification of the building blocks of organisms which we consume its plausible those changes may still be active and cause harm to a few unlucky individuals. Much better to being cautious than sorry and avoid repeat of babies being born deformed like incase of thalidomide

helix.northwestern.edu/article/thalidomide-tragedy-lessons-drug-safety-and-regulation.
Quote
 

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.

Banner
Banner