Biotech Updates

Uganda's VP Calls for Expedited Passing of Biotech and Biosafety Bill

December 2, 2015

Uganda's Vice President, Hon. Edward Sekandi, has urged Members of Parliament to pass Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012, which will provide a regulatory framework for safe research and development of modern biotechnology in Uganda.

Hon. Sekandi made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Biennial National Agricultural Biosciences (NaBIO) Conference held at Makerere University from November 23-25, 2015, under the theme Advancing Agro-biosciences and Innovations for Climate Smart Agriculture. According to the VP's speech read by Hon. Matthias Kasamba, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture, Hon. Sekandi noted that genetic engineering has greatly benefited the agriculture and economy of countries such as Burkina Faso, Brazil, and Argentina through high-yielding and pest/disease resistant crops. "For Uganda to maximally but safely benefit from it too, we need the proposed law to be passed by Parliament such that we regulate the benefits we want from it and leave out what we do not want as a country," he said.

The NaBIO Conference attracted close to 200 participants, including students, farmers, religious leaders, biosafety experts, Members of Uganda's Parliament, researchers, media practitioners, seed producers, Miss Uganda Foundation officials, industrial sector players, and university lecturers. The conference was jointly organized by Science Foundation for Livelihoods (SCIFODE), Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC), NARO, Uganda Biosafety and Biotechnology Consortium (UBBC), Uganda National Council for Science & Technology, ASARECA, Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), African Biosafety Network of Experts (ABNE) and Open Forum of Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).

A communique was produced, stating that the Biennial NaBIO gathering will help to voice scientists' efforts towards addressing climate change nationally and globally, provide a platform for scientists to showcase their work, and create a perfect mix of technology generators and users, as well as obtain feedback from different stakeholders for deliberation and action. The conference also called for better placement of science in Uganda, through formation of a Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation to ensure that science is given its due attention and an enabling environment.

Presenting "Science Communication Models for Agricultural Transformation in Uganda", UBIC Coordinator―Dr. Barbara Zawedde―noted that everyone is entitled to an opinion therefore the people against the technology cannot be stopped; what we need is for the scientists involved in biotech research to be more involved in public sensitization to allow for informed decision making.

For more information about biotechnology in Uganda, contact the UBIC Coordinator at