Scientists in Uganda had hoped it was the dawn of a new era in food security for a drought-prone region.
In October, Uganda’s legislature moved to lift a ban on genetically modified crops, a move that stoked both hopes and fears in a fiercely divided populace. Where proponents saw opportunity to lift a region out of a cycle of drought and crop failure, critics cautioned that the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the local environment could spell devastation for native flora and fauna.
Heeding those concerns, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign the bill when it arrived on his desk in December. Now, he has asked Parliament to work with the nation’s scientists to find a way to balance researchers’ hopes with anti-GMO activists’ concerns.
The president’s combined concern and hope illustrate the spectrum of thinking swirling around GMOs in Uganda and around the world. However, they also suggest that the two viewpoints may not necessarily be mutually exclusive. In his eyes, at least, there are ways to open the door for GM crops to help alleviate the impact of drought on the region while taking steps to preserve the integrity of native ecosystems.
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