Committee Report on Controversial GMO Bill Ready for Debate

Kafero Sekitoleko

The committee report on the controversial National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 also referred to as the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Bill is ready to be debated once again.

The Bill that has been on the shelves for so long due to its controversial clauses was passed with amendments on October 04last year, before President Yoweri Museveni in his letter dated 21st December 2017 refused to sign the Bill on grounds that Parliament needs to clarify on the title of the Bill, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals.

It is against this background that in January this year Minister of Science, Technology a and before it is sent back to the committee on Science and Technology chaired by Nakifuma County MP Kafeero Ssekitooleko.

Accordingly, the committee interacted with several stakeholders and made amendments as per the presidential directive is now ready with its new report slated to be debated on the floor of Parliament late this month or early next month.

Ssekitooleko confirmed to this website that indeed his committee had finalized its report, and waiting for a date scheduled by the Speaker for it to be debated.

“The report was presented on the floor of Parliament, but debate was deferred. So once the Speaker puts the item on the Order Paper then it will be debated and probably passed,” Ssekitooleko told the Insider.

This particular item has already been included on the Order Paper as business to follow and it is just a matter of time that it will be debated.

Article 91(3) of the 1995 Constitution states that the President shall within thirty days; (a) assent to the Bill; (b) return the Bill to Parliament with a request that the Bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament; or (c) notify the Speaker in writing that he or she refuses to assent to the Bill.

Clause 4 & 5 of the same article adds that, “Where a bill has been returned to Parliament under clause (3)(b) of this article, Parliament shall reconsider it and if passed again, it shall be presented for a second time to the President for assent. Where the President returns the same bill twice under clause (3)(b) of this article and the bill is passed for the third time, with the support of at least two-thirds of all members of Parliament, the Speaker shall cause a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament, and the bill shall become law without the assent of the President.”

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