Consultative Workshop for Policy-makers on Biotechnology and Biosafety Development in Uganda,

Grand Imperial Hotel, December 14th 2006

Despite Uganda’s abundant natural resources endowment, the country is faced with a multitude of challenges which include widespread poverty, poor health and food shortages. One of the promising remedies that can contribute to overcoming Uganda’s development challenges is the application of Biotechnology. However, there is need for a National Vision for application of biotechnology so that all players target their objectives to achieving this vision. There is also need to design effective strategies and mechanisms to maximize the benefits of biotechnology while minimizing any adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

To address the above challenge, the Government of Uganda, through the aegis of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) established a National Biosafety Framework (NBF) in 2000. As part of NBF, the last four years have been dedicated to developing a National Policy on Biotechnology and Biosafety to guide the judicious application of biotechnology. The process of drafting this policy has involved extensive consultations with policy makers, scientists, regulators and policy analysts.  The final draft has been submitted to the Minister responsible for Planning for legislation.
Members of Parliament play a very important role in designing national visions and legislation of policies. It was agreed that a workshop be held to sensitize members of Parliament on biotechnology and biosafety issues so that they can appreciate the possible contribution of biotechnology to national development.

A half-day workshop was organized by Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) with technical and financial backstopping from the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) a USAID funded Project. The objectives were:

  • To enhance awareness on Biotechnology and Biosafety issues
  • To present the need for a national Biotechnology and Biosafety policy for Uganda
  • To consult with some members of key committees of Parliament and other stakeholders on the national way-forward on biotechnology.

Way-forward on Biotechnology and Biosafety in Uganda

  • Approval of the Policy is very crucial so follow-up with the Ministry responsible for Planning should be enhanced.
  • UNCST should involve the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology in pushing the policy forward.
  • Inquiries and information on Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy and related matters should be channelled through UNCST which is the competent authority.