Agency For Transformation

Open Letter to Hon. Paula Turyahikayo on GMO bill

Mrs. Paula Turyahikayo (MP)

Member of Parliament Rubabo Constituency
Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
Plot 16-18 Parliament Avenue
P.O BOX 7178, Kampala, Uganda.

26thMarch 2013
Dear Hon. Paula,
I am writing to you to express deepest concern regarding the Biosafety and Biotechnology Bill 2012, which is currently under discussion in the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology. I want to urge you to vote against this bill, because it will harm many family farmers in Rubabo and Uganda as a whole.

In its current form the Bill is aligned to the interests of transnational companies and not to the interests of Ugandan farmers and the wider public. The proposed Bill will facilitate the introduction genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) on a massive scale without any safeguards. This is a violation of the precautionary principle, which forms the basis of the African Union’s revised African Model Law on Biodiversity. Thus, the adoption of this Bill would compromise the future adoption of a national Ugandan Biodiversity Bill based on the African Model Law on Biodiversity.

Subjecting the agricultural sector to the imperatives of the agro-industry and its GMO-model will gradually destroy traditional family farming, local seed systems and Ugandan food. The massive introduction of GMO’s will increase family farmer’s dependency on agro-industry, because they will be obliged to buy costly patented seeds and expensive fertilisers. Due to such increased production costs, there is a risk of high indebtedness and bankruptcy for family farmers. Additionally, patented commercial seeds deprive farmers of the right to save, replant, share or propagate their ownseeds. This harms the foodself-sufficiency of family farmers, who represent the majority of the Ugandan population, and as consequence the entire country’s foodsovereignty. The introduction of GM-feedstock will have the same effect for livestock farming and will eliminate traditional herding practices. The combination of these effects of GMO’s will lead to the disappearance of local seeds and food stuffs.

Instead of promoting this destructive model, we urge you to use your influence to enact policies supporting family farmers, who form the basis of our economy and our country. Vital issues for family farmers are improved access to credit, inputs and markets. Despite these obstacles organic family farming is growing at 38% per year in Uganda. Therefore, the implementation of supportive policies could liberate an enormous growth potential for the sector, providing better income opportunities for low-income family farmers and conserving biodiversity.
I am looking forward hearing from you regarding both the stopping of the Biosafety and Biotechnology Bill 2012 and the supportive policies you envisage for our family farmers in Rubabo and Uganda.
Yours Sincerely,

Morrison Rwakakamba
Voter – Rubabo Constituency