Genetically Modified Crops to the Rescue?

By UBC Reporter

Genetically modified crops are still generating debate in the country as Parliament prepares to pass a law to regulate them.

Antagonists claim that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are likely to have long-term effects on the environment and humans. However, those in support of the GMO technology insist that it is a key tool for long-term food security for a growing population.

On a general scale, no scientific study has shown that GMOs have harmful effects on humans, animals or the environment. In fact, in some countries where the technology was previously resisted under the fear that it is dangerous, they have since embraced it and the technology continues to thrive there. GMO crops are planted by over 18 million farmers across the world.

It is, however, fair to say that in Uganda, there has been little awareness about the potential of biotechnology to increasing food production, and fighting pests and diseases.

Dr. Theresa Sengooba, the Regional Coordinator for the East Africa Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), a programme under the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), says that currently there are no GMOs in Uganda apart from crops under confined field trials.

Biotechnology or genetically modified organisms have been applied in food production for now 20 years.

Those pushing for the adoption of GMOs say that the crops will offer a solution to global food crisis amidst the growing population.

They say it took until the year 1800 for the world population to reach one billion. The second billion was attained after 130 years in 1930, the third billion in less than 30 years in 1959.

It took only 15 years for the population to hit four billion in 1974 and the fifth billion in 13 years in 1987. Now estimated at 7.4 billion people, it will require increased food production using more modern technologies to feed the world.