Letter to Members of the 9th Parliament [opinion]

Unlike many Ugandans, you are in a privileged position to secure and guarantee Uganda’s integrity, stability, security, unity and prosperity. This implies that your decisions and actions are capable of determining, promoting, sustaining or undermining both the present and future of Uganda. This fact comes into sharp truism in the case of the hugely-controversial genetically- modified (GM) foods. Seed or biotech giants such as Mosanto, backed by the American administration, are forcing GM seeds down the throats of many nations through a variety of manoeuvres.

United States’ foreign aid is being increasingly tagged to acceptance or purchase of the GM seeds! Those in Uganda who accept the bribes are perpetuating a treacherous form of vile corruption. Dear MPs, the responsibility of protecting Ugandans from these seed giants rests on your shoulders. Unlike other nations’ nationals, we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.

If jealously protected and government is able to formulate and implement favourable policies, this privileged position could accelerate Uganda’s transformation to a first-world and prosperous nation. Be warned! The intention of the seed giants is to make Uganda dependent on importation of the seed from them, every year.

This would mean that every planting season, Ugandans would have to buy GM seeds from their stores and agents. What would happen to people who don’t have money? Such a devastating development would usher in Uganda a humiliating form of modern-day slavery. Sadly, this is what some of our own officials are recommending to Ugandans!

Dependence on imported seeds would also mean that whenever Uganda enacts laws which our ‘friends’ don’t like, Ugandans would be starved of the seeds. Remember the anti-homosexuality law? To express their displeasure against Uganda’s passing of the law, the American administration has stopped funds that were being used to purchase drugs for Ugandans affected by HIVAids. Do you see how far they are prepared to go in defence of their ‘interests’?

In the same way, the seed giants and their governments could choose to starve the nation by denying seeds to our farmers. There are other dangerous consequences which are associated with importation of GM seeds. They outweigh any aantages being marketed in support of these seeds. For one, Mosanto has reduced the measured cost of food production by producing GM seeds that result in plants that are pest and herbicide-resistant.

The result is increased yields and lower measured costs of production. This is the attractive side. Nevertheless, there is evidence that the social or external costs of this approach to farming more than offset the lower measured costs. They include toxic effects on micro-organisms in the soil, a decline in soil fertility and nutritional value of food and animals and human infertility.

Overall, adoption of GM seeds would affect Uganda’s agricultural industry in addition to presenting serious health and environmental risks. In his book, Genetic Roulette, Jeffrey M Smith writes: “Genetically modified foods are inherently unsafe and current safety assessments are not competent to protect us from or even identify most dangers”. The evidence is piling up against GM seeds.

Finally, the prospect of condemning Ugandans to whims of powerful and selfish interests must be resisted. Many countries are banning GM foods. Why then do our blessed officials want Uganda to go in the opposite direction? More than 60 countries around the world have imposed significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GM seeds.

Russia and China are the latest countries to do so. Lawmakers in Russia equate genetically-engineered foods to terrorist acts and want to impose criminal penalties. Dear MPs, I urge you in the name of God to put interests of Ugandans before those of seed giants, their governments and Ugandan collaborators. You must not bend to their pressure. Reject the bill on GMOs.

The Author is the executive director of Coalition for Aancement of Moral Vlues-East Africa.

Source : The Observer

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