Why the biotech Bill should be passed

A report in a publication, Crop Biotech Update, indicated that Ugandan parliamentarians were in India to attend a workshop of Parliamentary Agriculture Committees from India, Africa and South Asia Regions held in October. It was organised by Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and the countries represented included: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.

The workshop aimed at devising ways to increase food productivity and to achieve food security. It was stressed that technical innovations are vital to meet today’s challenges of food security and that countries should focus on crop improvement and on sustainable use of resources. Other issues tackled were the myths and realities of genetically modified (GM)rops, safety of GM food, and the roles of parliamentary agricultural committees in strengthening agriculture.

In the same publication, it was disclosed that nine Kenyan parliamentarians promised to take specific measures towards lifting the ban on importing GM foods instituted in 2012. They visited the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema) project’s field trials, and were briefed on the efforts to develop water efficient maize with a trait for insect resistance.

“We know that GM foods are safe for human consumption,” said Fred Outa. “Credible institutions have conducted trials on this and they have assured us of their safety.” The MPs regretted that technology is available but people could not access it because of the ban.

The report mentions an analysis made by two experts, Wilhelm Klumper and Matin Oaim from University of Goettingen, which covered 147 studies carried out over the last 20 years. “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 per cent, increased crop yields by 22 per cent and increased farmer profits by 68 per cent.

Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect resistant crops than for herbicide tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. The meta-analysis reveals robust evidence of GM crop benefits. Such evidence may help to gradually increase public trust in this technology.”

E-mail: ssalimichaelj@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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