Biotech Updates

ISAAA GM Crops Adoption Report Launched in Uganda

April 15, 2015

Uganda's State Minister for Industry and Technology has come out strongly to support the adoption of biotech crops in Uganda, noting that they have the potential "enhance productivity, address food security issues, increase production, and increase our export base". Hon. James Mutende made these remarks while launching the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014 on April 7, 2015 at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Uganda.

Hon. Mutende pointed out that if the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill- currently awaiting a second reading in Parliament- is passed into law, it will ensure safe development and use of modern biotechnology by scientists in Uganda. However, he appealed to scientists who have openly criticized the technology to have a dialogue with researchers working on biotech/GM crops so that they have a harmonized voice. He said that the divided scientists' viewpoints about the technology have been partly responsible for Parliamentarians' delay in passing the Bill into law. Hon. Mutende called on Uganda farmers to consider adopting biotech crops if they are to compete in commercial farming.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Andrew KiggunduHead of Biodiversity at NAROnoted that Ugandan researchers are currently developing GM crops to address challenges such as pests, diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and harsh climatic conditions such as drought. For example, banana has been fortified with iron and Vitamin A using a gene that previously only expressed in the leaves to express to the fruit. A popular rice variety- NERICA 4, has also been modified to grow in areas of low soil nitrogen, salty soil, and in dry areas. Other biotech crops currently in the research and development stages in Uganda include: cassava, maize, sweet potato, ground nuts, and millet.

The launch was organized by the Uganda Biosciences Information Centre (UBIC) and was attended by about 70 participants.

For more details about biotechnology in Uganda, contact Barbara Mugwanya of UBIC at