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Crop Biotech Update

UBIC Concludes Regional Sensitization Fora on Modern Agro-biotech Research in Uganda

May 20, 2015
The Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC) in partnership with Science Foundation for Livelihoods Development (SCIFODE) conducted a series of workshops on the application and regulation of modern agro-biotechnology for agricultural development. The workshops were held from May 11 to 18, 2015, in four districts in the eastern and northern parts of Uganda. A total of 320 participants attended the workshops including farmers, farmers' associates, religious, cultural, youth, women and political leaders. The workshops were a timely move to heighten momentum towards passing of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, which is currently awaiting second reading in Parliament. 

Participants were introduced to the on-going research in relevant agricultural commodities at the National Agricultural Research institutes. They got insights on the various crop improvement methods such as hybrid technology, tissue culture, and why genetic modification (GM) technology is used to address specific challenges from crop pests and diseases. Participants lauded the efforts of the National Agricultural Research Organization in trying to address key agricultural challenges using advanced technologies, and the efforts by UBIC and SCIFODE to increase their awareness on the on-going research. They, however, called for more public engagement and sensitization, to allay fears regarding the safety of genetically modified organisms. 

Each activity in the districts was concluded with radio talk shows, where a champion farmer representative or community leader shared the proceedings of the workshop with a wider community audience. Farmers called on their area Members of Parliament to enact the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill into law, so that they try out the biotech crops on their farms, while relevant Government Agencies ensure safety to human health and the environment. 

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