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"GMOs and the food scarcity crisis in Uganda"
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"GMOs and the food scarcity crisis in Uganda"

Aishah NamukasaAn online campaign in Uganda is warning of the dangers of introducing genetically modified organisms in order to combat a growing food crisis, reports 29-year-old Aishah Namukasa, now living in Germany.

Over the last few years food production has reduced at an increasingly alarming rate in Uganda, a country once dubbed the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill in the 20th Century.

Though gifted by nature with fertile soils, as its national anthem proclaims, today Uganda is at the peak of a crisis of food scarcity that has occurred elsewhere in the world.

This crisis is partly attributed to a lack of sufficient rainfall and increasingly high prices of fuel, an essential substance for food production.

In early April 2011, a ‘walk to work’ campaign against the increasing food – as well as fuel – prices was launched by the Action for Change (A4C) advocacy group.

It prompted some opposition leaders, including Col Kizza Besigye and Mr Nobert Mao, to lead protests, which resulted in arrests for some of the participants.

In response to the crisis, some members of the public have been agitating for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to boost food security and availability.

This form of production, advanced by huge corporations such as Monsanto, is however not without its problems. First, because the farmers lose proprietorship of their seeds and, second, is as evident in the call for ‘bio’ production in several developed countries.

The move to introduce genetically modified seeds in Uganda has been met with resistance in the form of an initiative by a Ugandan Canadian educator and journalist, Dr Opiyo Oloya.

Dr Oloya, in his regular opinion pieces in the state run New Vision paper, writes extensively against the introduction of GMOs in Uganda, which may leave poor farmers unable to afford the GMO seeds. The petition is sponsored by Naturally Organic Agriculture Harvest (NOAH) and at the time of writing had 951 signatories.

The success of this media campaign has yet to be seen, but it is likely to be boosted by the increase in the use of the internet and other online media sources by Ugandans.

If the government opts out of GMOs and supports farmers engaging organic agriculture as a more sustainable form of food production, as opposed to expensive and almost irreversible GMOs, it will be a considerable success for this online campaign.

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

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