The Prime Minister Dr Rugunda has said that there is urgent need to enact the Biotechnology and Biosafety legislation in order to operationalise the implementation of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy, 2008.
The Prime Minister made these remarks while opening the round table discussion on the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012 at Imperial Royale hotel on Thursday.
The Bill follows Government approval of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety policy in 2008 after ratification of Cartagena protocol on Biosafety in 2001.
The overall objective of the policy is to contribute to the overarching national goals of poverty eradication, improved healthcare, food security, industrialisation and protection of the environment through the safe application of science, technology and biotechnology.
The Premier said the urgent need for the bill is not only to enact a law that will promote and regulate the applications of different innovations in country, but will also ease and simplify the work of scientists in the field of biotechnology through regulation which will enable them enjoy the benefits of their field fully.
“To imagine that we have not come out with a bill to actualise the policy, nearly a decade later is a shame and therefore, the task before us is very urgent,” Hon Rugunda said.
Dr Rugunda also pledged government’s commitment to support science innovations including biotechnology which creates enormous opportunities for agricultural production, medical research and application, industrial production and environmental protection.
The Prime Minister noted that the major hindrance to the progress of the bill has been resistance, mainly caused by the innocent locals and natives who have no facts and knowledge about the benefits of technological advancements and developments and thus need sensitization in this regard, while others are self-seekers who do not wish the country well, in terms of progress and development.
The Premier was however hopeful that the forum will come up with a common ground and understanding as regard to the bill and cautioned that the best practices from within the country, the region and internationally be considered.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, said his ministry is committed to solve the problems faced by the country such as drought, hunger and diseases through science and technology.
The Minister also extended his appreciation to His Excellency the President, government and public for the support rendered in the advancement of science and technology as well as the national Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012.
The Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Kafeero Ssekitoleko said a number of strategies and interventions have been taken, including consulting 40 stake holders from different institutions countrywide as well as benchmarking in a number of foreign countries including Kenya, China, Beijing among others to ensure that the best policies and decisions are selected in regard to the implementation of the law.
BY DOREEN NASASIRA