Africa News January 13, 2000

Uganda; Miyingo Calls For Environment Law


Kampala - The Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Kezimbira Miyiingo, has called for a law to protect the bio-diversity and ensure conservation of the environment. Miyingo was yesterday speaking to stakeholders in the field of bio- diversity. The meeting discussed ways

to effectively deal with the bio-diversity and bio- safety issues and discussed the forthcoming convention on bio-diversity due on January 24, in Canada. Miyingo expressed concern that genetically modified materials were beginning to find their way into Uganda. He said this was likely to infringe on bio- diversity and bio-safety in the

country. The Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Prof. John Okedi, said NEMA had come out with a draft action plan, and a national strategy and bio-diversity plan was expected to be in place by mid this year. Miyingo also expressed concern that there was no policy for accessing genetic materials in Uganda. He said anybody disguised as a researcher comes into the country and takes whatever they want without question.

"There are no mechanisms in place, to check on all such practices that will likely infringe on our bio-diversity. A law ought to be put in place sooner. I will personally take it up at the political level," he said. "As we struggle to make laws, the genetically modified materials are beginning to come into the country. Who is there and what mechanism

is there to safeguard our country. I am informed that countries that produce them are rejecting them and they will end up with us here. The acting Assistant Executive Director, National Council for Science and Technology, Dr. Charles Mugoya, said they were working out a law that would hold importers liable in case of any adverse effects resulting from the consumption of such products. "We should not only focus on the genetically modified materials, because it is only part of the component, but there are others, that is why I have been fighting against importation of semen, because of the mad-cow disease,"

Miyingo said. He criticised genetical modification, saying it would enslave farmers, who will not have their own seeds to plant and have to rely on suppliers. Mugoya said bio-safety committees were being set up to ensure no clandestine groups smuggle into Uganda genetically modified materials.

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