By Christopher Bendana
Added 29th April 2016 02:04 PM
report lists another 10 countries that have Biosafety laws but no CFT taking
See more at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1423442/isaaa-2015-report-uganda-special-position#sthash.03vbnILC.dpuf
Uganda is the only country in Africa
doing biotech crops Confined Field Trials (CFT) with no Biosafety law in place.
This precarious position is
contained in a recent report released by the International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) an
organization that tracks biotech crops across adoption across the globe
Uganda is currently testing five
biotech crops in confined field trials. They are bananas, cassava, maize, rice
and potatoes. They are being tested at the National Crops Resources Research
Institute, Namulonge (NaCRRI)
and the National Agricultural Research Laboratories, Kawanda.
Ten countries including Kenya have
both CFT and Biosafety Laws; they include Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon,
Malawi, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan. Kenya has since approved open
cultivation of the Water Efficient maize. The same maize is still in CFT
The report lists another 10
countries that have Biosafety laws but no CFT taking place, Ethiopia, Namibia,
Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tunisia.
Only three countries in Africa have
commercialized biotech crops. They are South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan.
The ISAAA 2015 report reveals 28
biotech countries growing crops on 179 hectares
A new entrant, Sudan which grows
cotton has raised its acreage from 20,000ha in 2012 to 120,000ha in 2105.
Dr Barbara, Zawedde, the
coordinator, Uganda Biosciences Information Center, a National Agricultural
Research Organisation information hub at the NaCRRI says that the Biosafety law is long overdue.
She says the bred varieties have
shown resistance to pests and diseases, which is important if fighting food
She adds that the law is important
to help detect any GMO spillage from outside the country. Ugandans are
also known to pick crop varieties that show high yields and such varieties may
She also cites Kenya which has
approved open cultivation of the Water Efficient maize.
“It is important for us to have
legislation in place to monitors GM development in the country,” she said,
The United States of America (70.9m
ha), Brazil (44m ha) and Argentine (24.5m ha) are the leading producers of
biotech crops according to the report. In Africa, South Africa leads with
2.3mha under cultivation. The main crops are cotton, maize and soya (soybean).
The breeders are waiting for the
passing of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill before they can
release the varieties to the farmers.
Some countries had made new
legislation to genetic engineering while others like the United States of
America used exiting legislation (Plant Protection Act and Food and Drug
Administration) others like Sudan commercialized with no law.
The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.
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