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APRIL 2009



Uganda: Ministry Clears GM Cotton, Planting to Start in May

Ronald Kalyango,
AllAfrica, April 22, 2009

Kampala - Genetically modified cotton will be planted at different sites in May and June this year, an official has revealed.

"We are on the right track. The technology providers are positive. They have visited all the sites and at last the trails which had delayed for the last seven years are going to be conducted," said Dr.Tilahun Zeweldu, who has been at the forefront of Bt. Cotton research.

Confined field trials are studies that are made by scientists to collect data on any new varieties developed at research stations within the country or outside. The importation of the seeds followed the granting of an importation permit by the crop protection department of the agriculture ministry in February.

Speaking recently at a stakeholders meeting at Mosa Court in Kampala, the Monsanto South Africa's business development manager, Danie Olivier, said the trials would be conducted for three consecutive seasons. "The confined field trial will help Ugandan scientists gather information to use when the crop is commercialised," said Olivier.

The Monsanto Company is an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation and the leading producer of genetically engineered seed, holding 70%-100% market share for various crops.

It is charged with the responsibility of providing the technology which will be tested at the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Serere, Soroti and at the prisons farm in Mobuku, Kasese. Uganda has been targeting the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) with a bacterium gene for tolerance to Bollworm pests and the Roundup Ready (RR) cotton with resistance to the Roundup herbicide for the control of weeds.