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Former Minister Buturo hits proponents over GMO comments

FILE PHOTO: Former minister for Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The former minister for Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo has criticized United States Ambassador Deborah Malac for allegedly meddling into Uganda’s internal affairs.

The Bufumbira East MP yesterday addressed a Press Conference at Parliament together with Kumi Municipality MP Silas Aogon on the need for Uganda to totally ban genetically modified organisms.

In September, Ambassador Deborah Malac expressed displeasure over President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s decline to sign the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill, 2018 into law for the second consecutive time. The bill seeks to regulate trade and scientific modifications and bar cloning of human beings.

Parliament passed the Bill in November 2018 but the President declined to assent to it suggesting a number of proposals that need to be addressed for the benefit of scientists and the community.

In his letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the President appealed to Parliament to among other issues address benefit-sharing between the breeder, inventor and indigenous communities, the scope of the law, isolation measures, use of poisons and dangerous enzymes and bacteria and strict liability among others.

His Opposition to the Bill attracted a statement from Malac who expressed disappointment at the President for failing to sign the Bill into law.

“We hope that there will be a discussion of the sound science behind the technology and not allow it to be a conversation that is full of emotion and misinformation,” she said then.

It is from Malac’s statement that former Minister Buturo criticized her saying that she needed to stick to diplomatic engagements and not interfere with Uganda’s internal activities.

“A Ugandan Ambassador cannot go to the States and start telling the American government what to do. Diplomatically ambassadors must not comment on affairs of the host nation,” said Buturo.

He said that if the US Ambassador was aggrieved she could quietly go to the foreign affairs ministry and present her case. Buturo appealed to government to take action against the envoy.

MPs Buturo and Aogon in their statement say they oppose the existence of regulatory mechanisms since they leave vacuum for abuse.

MP Aogon said there are so many regulations that have let Uganda down and that he cannot be part of having GMOs by regulations. He demanded that government instead rolls out extension services more effectively and ensure that farmers are well equipped.

Parliament is yet to take a final decision on the Bill after the President’s rejection of the Bill. However, Article 91 (6) (b) of the Constitution allows the Speaker to cause a copy of the Bill to be laid before Parliament upon the President’s refusal to assent to it after its reconsideration and the Bill becomes law without the assent of the President.

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