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Ugandan scientists helping Tanzanian legislators with biotechnology issues
Wednesday, 19th November 2014

Bio Technology
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Uganda's progress in applying biotechnology in research has led scientists and legislators from other countries consider its research institutes as an entry point for lessons to learn.

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Institutes under the National Research Organisation (Naro) are currently conducting research using biotechnology on crop varieties, mainly those prioritised by ministry of Agriculture.

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This has attracted visits by a number of delegations to learn how Uganda are faring with this technology. The most recent is a delegation from Tanzania led by Binilith Mahenga, minister of environment.

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The genesis
\r\n Prof Zerubabel Nyiira, state minister for Agriculture, explained to them the genesis of modern biotechnology in Uganda.

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The first application was in the early 1990s for the bovine samatotrophin hormone for milk production in cattle. But there was the need for regulation, which led to formation of the National Biosafety Committee housed at the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. Just like in other countries, the major controversies rage on application of biotechnology in agriculture.

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The minister explained that biotechnology is being targetted at areas where it provides a viable solution to a problem not easily addressed using conventional breeding.

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In his remarks, Dr Yonna Baguma, acting deputy director general, Naro, gave an overview of biotechnology research in Uganda. The Tanzanian scientists and legislators also visited the confined field trials in Namulonge and Kawanda.

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Mahenga noted that the world is witnessing development in science and technology, and Tanzania does not need to lag behind. There is a law on environment where biotechnology is embedded but where research is restricted to laboratories.

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They were impressed with the work going and promised to sensitise fellow legislators to amend laws barring scientists from conducting confined field trials and to exempt research under the strict liability provision.

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