Crop Biotech Update

Uganda's Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill Tabled in Parliament

February 13, 2013

The Ugandan National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 has been tabled in parliament by the chairperson of the committee on science and technology, Denis Hamson Obua. The bill, whose object includes providing for development and general release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Uganda also provides for a regulatory framework to facilitate safe development and application of biotechnology. The Private Members Bill initiated by the committee further provides for a Competent Authority, whose functions, if approved, will include approving the development, testing and use of GMO in the country as well as updating the national focal point on matters relating to biotechnology and biosafety.

The Authority will also ensure necessary measures to avoid adverse effects on the environment, biological diversity, human health, and on socio-economic conditions arising from GMOs. It will further prescribe standards relating to development of GMOs, advise government on issues of biotechnology and biosafety and coordinate the roles of other lead agencies in relation to handling of GMOs.

The Bill provides for establishment of a national Biosafety Committee which shall be responsible for, among others, advising the authority as well as recommending to it, new scientific information on the subject. Among other provisions, the bill states that a person shall not engage in research or general release of GMOs without approval under the law and the penalty for a defaulter is a fine not exceeding Ugangan Shillings 960,000 or imprisonment not exceeding twenty four months or both.

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