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The documentary Inside Job shows how the American financial services industry, with its greed, corruption, and the catch phrase of deregulation, created a financial crisis in a hitherto stable country, Iceland.

In its five parts, the documentary reflects how deregulation of the financial services, an idea, which was also sold to Uganda by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the privatisation frenzy, steadily drove a naïve Iceland into a financial crisis in 2008.

Watching that documentary, I could not help thinking that Uganda is headed for a food crisis if it embraces genetically modified (GM) technology with high throttle, thanks to the ‘wonderful’ and ‘reliable’ studies and researches by our academics and scientists.

We have a huge lobby system or group that is trying to market the acceptance of GM food in Uganda. Inside Job claims that prior to the invasion of Iceland by the American corporations, several corporations recruited the ‘reputable’ academics, or Economics professors from famous schools like Columbia Business School to write research papers and author reports which praised the stability of Iceland’s economy and banking systems.

These institutions collapsed two years after the launch of these reports. Of course, these professors did not disclose their conflict of interest. They wanted to maintain a position of academic neutrality or independence to give credence to the reports. Even after the financial crisis of 2008, to which they contributed by their slanted and bogus reports, they refused to own up.

The GM campaign has also recruited fairly reputable scientists and politicians to market it to Uganda. We have biologists and geneticists who have held several meetings with the members of Parliament, who are about to write a report on the bio-safety bill.

They have even convinced renowned environment crusader, Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar, aka Mama Mabira. Other scientists have authored several reports in the newspapers justifying the acceptance of GM crops or the use of genetically modifified technology in agriculture.

It may be difficult to unveil the conflicts of interest of these scientists, but it is not too farfetched to suspect them. The truth is, they will not declare their interest in the matter. A lot of money from international firms has been pumped into this scheme to ensure  it succeeds. The knowledge that scientists in Uganda have about GM technology seems to conflicts with what is on the ground. For instance, in western Uganda, the farmers who bought seeds from the seed companies, have woken up to the rude shock.

The yields from these seeds cannot germinate as it were with the organic seeds. So, the farmers are compelled to return to the seed companies. Traditionally, the farmers grew for instance, maize or beans for two purposes. One was to get food for subsistence and commercial purposes, and the other reason was to keep some of seeds in the granary for any incidents of famine and also to be used in the next planting season. Now with the new modified seeds, this is no longer possible.

This has dire consequences on the economy and the welfare of the farmers or peasants. It may mean that the peasant who cannot afford to buy seeds from the seed company may slide into poverty, therefore, remain vulnerable to hunger and famine. I don’t think science should chain farmers to unfair economic terms. The same applies to some of the chickens that have been introduced to some farmers.

The eggs cannot hatch into chicks. If the farmer has to expand his business entity, he has to return to the hatchery to buy new chicks. Yes, we need science and technology in agriculture, but we need to take the advice of these scientists with a pinch of salt. We need to ask, who is sponsoring these prominent African scientists to carry out these studies?  Why aren’t these studies homegrown?

Lest I forget, a story is told of some American yam scientists who came to Kawanda research centre to give advice on how to increase yam yields. The government official then, in the 1980s, who was conducting these scientists around, was shocked when the visitors were shown yams and instead asked what that was! There are no prizes for guessing as to what the government official recommended to his boss. Corruption hadn’t infiltrated. They were returned to their universities.

The author is the Business Development Director, The Observer Media Ltd.
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Comments

 
+1 #1 Obalopiny 2013-06-03 01:29
As long as Uganda still has the capacity to produce organic food that meets the local population needs, there is really no need to rush for genetically modified stuff! In the West you tend to find that organic food cost more?

Perhaps in the long term future, after extensive research on the safety of GM and its benefits should Uganda cautiously consider its introduction.

What good to anybody is an egg that doesn't hatch or seeds that germinate only once or a few times?
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0 #2 ricardo nyanza 2013-06-03 02:15
obviously GM crops have down sides or negative effects that's y were debating about it here. T o cut the story short i agree with all those that oppose GM crops on the continent because currently in sub sahara agricultural land outstrips dry areas in west african countries such as Mali.

The problem is only organisational if the AU worked hard in this area they shouldn't be any problem distributing agricultural products for countries who don't have suitable land and i don't mean for free.

Even in Europe where the Winter takes ages GM crops are not fully welcome. But then again Africa is the only place where you can come and introduce any crap idea and the locals buy it. They don't call us the most dumb race for nothing this is sad!
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0 #3 Betty Long Cap 2013-06-03 02:20
...Uganda is headed for a food crisis if it embraces genetically modified (GM) technology....

Total agreement, Pius Muteekani Katunzi! Instead, encourage gardeners and farmers to join Seed Savers Exchange. http://www.seedsavers.org/
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+1 #4 Bonabana 2013-06-03 11:01
Yes Pius I agree with you,sometimes I have a feeling we are like standing in the forest and we dont see the trees.

There was once a hot debatte about Gm foods India the woman said categorical,No we dont need them.
From our side you could see preservance.Show them the trees.
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0 #5 Faisal Saad 2013-06-03 14:24
Pius, the future of our food production should not be taken lightly and left to experimenters. Uganda has never had food crisis, under producing and loss in the poor after harvest and handling processes.

Large scale farms with a minimum 200 ha under food crop, Uganda can easily feed all and surplus without even using chemical fertilizers. This land can produce 3 crops of beans in a year without irrigation and fertilizers is, a “super power” of some sort.

Improved basic cultural practices and encouragement of more land use for food will suffice. The “developed countries are calling for us to “go green” while they are reverting to organic food production and their GM food is primarily for animal feed and alternative fuels. Food production is one crucial aspect of our independence that must not be easily manipulated by others. Africa has “artificial famine” because we are still exploited economically
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0 #6 Betty Long Cap 2013-06-03 17:06
Quoting Faisal Saad:
Africa has “artificial famine” because we are still exploited economically


I knew a man who spent ten dollars for ten kernels of open-pollinated corn years ago. A seed ought to be able to reproduce itself. If Africans are being exploited, they have only themselves to blame. You do not have to buy everything Monsanto wants to sell.
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+1 #7 Faisal Saad 2013-06-03 18:56
We do not need to transform our natural crops for the sake of “mass harvests” from these GM types. Imagine Israel a major food exporter to Europe, all non GM produce.

Like Israel good tillage practices, land management and marketing will enhance our food security .At this stage in Uganda, our humble peasants produce can reach markets as far as Kinshasa, Kisangani, Juba, Mombasa, Kigali etc., better crop management is what we need.

Strange that some rare crop diseases always surface when someone tries to “teach” us how to improve farming. Our elders knew crop rotation and fallow practices. Because we never document these village level techniques, we tend to be follow any “new” exotic farming innovations. GM benefits can only be limited crops like cotton.
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+3 #8 meandu 2013-06-04 00:20
A friend of mine studied Ms Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Hohenheim here in Germany, and Uganda was their case study on organic food production!

Marketed as Bio-products in Europe, organic food has special labelling, costs more and is highly recommended by nutritionists.

Recently Deutsche Welle(DW)websit e ran an article on Uganda and organic farming: there's only one umbrella organisation in the country but they have been certified to export their produce directly to the European Union.

At a conference in 2012 (Germany) the Ugandans received offers worth over $200 Million of produce but they could only meet $40 Million worth!

Who says our food is worthless?
Let's be careful on what we introduce to our soils otherwise in a generation we might find ourselves with depleted soils that need tonnes of fertilizer to grow cassava and beans!
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0 #9 Lawot 2013-06-04 04:55
Thanks Pius. Well, here are a few links to recent RT news segments on U-tube that will perhaps open the eyes of our fellow countrymen to the evils of that company – MONSANTO and its genetically-modified crops.

There were world-wide protests against Monsanto and GMOs, but ordinary Ugandans simply don’t grasp the biochemical dangers inherent in these genetically-engineered food crops.

I could write a lengthy article on the said dangers but what is the point? The say a picture is worth a thousand words;
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0 #10 ntambi 2013-06-04 11:39
You Pius; what is wrong with you, Ugandans can go to Hell! We are talking investors in agriculture here. Do you hear? M7's investors in boosting the agriculture sector.

Don't we admire America and bribe our way to get visas to countries that feed their citizens on GMOs?
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+1 #11 Faisal Saad 2013-06-04 13:40
quoting "Bonabana"........

"There was once a hot debatte about Gm foods India the woman said categorical,No we dont need them"

India with almost 1Billion people is a net agricultural produce exporter. Reports indicate 20% mulnuitrition prevails resulting from losses during food distribution,fl aws in storage practices and possibly by diet prefrences.

Foreign scientists are often mesmerised by the sheer high content of iron in our (Uganda) root crops.One day we may be selling cassava chips to anemic and Vitamin D deficient residents of the northern hemisphere and other extreem world regions.
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0 #12 Lakwena 2013-06-04 13:42
Pius thank you for bringing this up. We have in this country highly placed politicians and quack scientists alike, who can sell their mothers for a price.

The introduction of GM crops and animals in Africa is the ultimate 21st century slave shackle, to chain Africans (Ugandans) for eternity.

And ever since Mr. M7 denies his own people who work on foreign investors' commercial firms and farms, a minimum wage; he is the slave kayungirizzi (broker) and cam trader.
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+1 #13 Betty Long Cap 2013-06-04 15:32
Quoting ntambi:
Don't we admire America and bribe our way to get visas to countries that feed their citizens on GMOs?


ntambi, you are crazy to swallow a camel and choke on a gnat. Babylon is falling.
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+1 #14 Roland 2013-06-05 11:13
You need to watch a documentary called FOOD INC to see what is happening in this world..GM food will be the death of all of us.
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0 #15 Lakwena 2013-06-06 08:42
Quoting Roland:
You need to watch a documentary called FOOD INC to see what is happening in this world..GM food will be the death of all of us.


You are right Roland. But in case your fear comes true; they are putting in place, plan B by building a seeds' vault in Norway, where all the seeds, including those of dodo from around the world are being stored/preserved.

They will be patented with copyrights, therefore an African peasant like Okello or Mukasa will have not right over his millet, gobe or nakati seeds. We shall have to buy the natural seeds from them: seed mafias.

Just like they genetically modified viruses/diseases (GMD) in order to come up with incurable diseases like HIV/Aids. In that way, they could have an eternal pharmaceutical industry to supply the ARV.

Catch the GMD industrial disease, you will depend on the ARV for the rest of your miserable short life!
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