Prof. Latigo, GMOs & Land Give Aways

A request to post on my blog – The Humanist View – this direct challenge to Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo came through my blog, from a blogger who goes by “bedsireadings.” They asked me as follows:  “Norah, will you please post this e-mail exchange. It is involves one of our legislators who believes that GMOs are the solution to our major problems of low agricultural production.”

 The blogger assessed that The Humanist View was an effective channel through which to reach a significant readership of active citizens of Uganda and of the world. So in comment to one of my blog posts: “Modernising agriculture changes Uganda’s land use – are we prepared for the changes?” the request was made. I am flirted and exhilarated at the same time that The Humanist View is considered a significant thinking and discourse space. So here goes – I share below the direct challenge from a blogger and an active citizen to Prof. Latigo.

Prof. Latigo, you accuse me of talking to you like you are some peasant from the village, yet having many accomplishments among which you mention “considerably informed and highly responsible, principled and fairly respected national leader.” And a Farmer too, I may add.

And yes you are right. I use Internet to search for information, in addition to using it for other things as well. As a leader, you fought tooth and nail for land giveaway to the Madvhani Group of Companies to set up a sugar factory on 40,000 hectares of land in 2012. Last year things reached a boiling point with elderly women staging a nude demonstration against their land grab.

All along you have been at the forefront fighting to have GMO agriculture in Uganda, with slogans such as “Embrace Knowledge” and “Do not Stifle Progress” under the pretext that agricultural challenges among which is climate change cannot be overcome and produce enough food for a fast growing population without embracing agriculture biotechnology.

Supposing we got the 2012 GMO Bill passed tomorrow and for example Ugandans were given free Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) to plant, would you expect a higher corn yield during the drought season? According to your reasoning, we expect a “YES” from you.

However, considering your accomplishments, the fact of the matter is that you know very well it’s not GMOs that increase yield, it is irrigation. Otherwise, why would the U.S., a leader in GMO Corn assert:

Corn used 14 percent more irrigation water in 2013 than in 2008, according to survey results, while water use for all crops combined declined 3.7 percent (and 9 percent since 1998, the highest year on record.) Those are remarkable findings considering corn production also used more irrigation water than any other crop.

Does that sound like GMO Water Efficient Corn for America (WECA) is working? But it is not just corn only check out this report which finds that: Irrigation water is essential for keeping fruits, vegetables, and grains growing to feed the world’s population. This has been a constant for thousands of years. Estimates vary, but about 70 percent of all the world’s fresh water withdrawals go towards irrigation uses.

Research indeed finds that Large-scale farming could not provide food for the world’s large populations without the irrigation of crop fields by water gotten from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wells.

For Uganda, less than one percent of farms use irrigation while only five percent of commercial farms use irrigation as opposed to 100 percent of commercial and none commercial farms in the U.S. and other developed countries.

As you noticed, I do use internet search. Searching Prof. Latigo and irrigation, search results turned “0” found. Now, I could be wrong, but I tried various combinations and I still don’t find you advocating for what has been proven to work for centuries to increase food production even with GMOs and that is irrigation.

As a leader for your people, you advocate for giving away 40,000 hectares of land for sugar factory and introduction of GMOs as a solution, while people in your area – the Acholi – are advocating for rehabilitation of Agoro irrigation scheme started way back in 1966 by Obote 1 government! And then upgraded in 1970.

If these poor peasant cultivators can stand up and ask the government to provide them with what has been proven to increase agricultural production, and you are there calling for GMOs and land give away, is this the  highly responsible, principled and fairly respected national leader you see in yourself for your people?

Uganda: Farmers Make Loses As Soils Run Out Of Water, and your solution is handing them GMO crops! But they know better how the government should be spending their tax money, they know what works all around the world even in the U.S., so please, stop misleading them.

Uganda: Farmers Want To Turn To Irrigation As Drought Drags On. For example,  Check out what Iga, a chemical engineer turned farmer credits for his success, it not as much to chemicals as it is to irrigation! You can fool some people some time, but not all the people all the time.

Prof. as an educated farmer, don’t you use irrigation? If not, what is wrong with you? And if you do, then again, what is wrong with you misleading people that GMOs are the answer to drought?

“There is nothing and if the rains don’t come, it is going to be a catastrophe.” President Hifikepunye Pohamba appealing for aid from nations that depend on aquifer irrigation! Vast aquifer found in Namibia could last for centuries, yet people blame God for lack of water! The aid Namibia is going to get is Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), instead of agricultural irrigation technology! Look at Kenya! Kenya has aquifers in dry Turkana region.

But where is the government headed? Not doing the same thing done all over the world in developed countries, which is investing in agricultural irrigation, but going for Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) instead; just because they are told it’s free! It’s only Africans that still believe in a free lunch!

 

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3 comments

  1. Norah, for a follow up, could you please post the following, it helps to keep Ugandans know their elected officials’ reasoning:

    I wrote e-mail titled: “Finally the President has woken up to the falsehood of some Scientists.”

    Dear all,

    “Uganda grows good quality cotton – the long staple of 33mm in length… this is without irrigation… with irrigation our cotton can grow to 36 mm. This makes very good textiles,” the president said in a letter copied to the Vice-President, finance, agriculture, defence and internal affairs ministers.

    http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1432224/uganda-prisons-takes-cotton-growing

    This is far from the message of some leaders, some policy makers and NARO scientists who were pushing for passing the 2012 GMO Bill so that Uganda could grow GMO crops like Monsanto’s GMO Cotton that became a total failure in Burkina Faso, producing inferior quality of 25mm fiber
    length that the international market wasn’t interested in.

    …Later

    Sam.

    XXXXXXXXXXXX

    Re: Finally the President has woken up to the falsehood of some Scientists.

    On Fri, 8/12/16, Prof Latigo wrote:

    I suppose for you it Uganda’s
    non-smoking cotton that is used for textile in the USA, India, China etc.

    The tragedy of simplistic reasoning. Who has proven the value of irrigation on cotton when not a single cotton irrigation trial has been conducted in Uganda?

    Which fool fed the President with this scientifically non-substantiated claim? And for all sanity what has this got to do with enactment of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill?

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Re: Finally the President has woken up to the falsehood of some Scientists.

    Dear Hon. Prof. Latigo,

    “Who has proven the value of irrigation on cotton when not a single cotton irrigation trial has been conducted in Uganda?” – Prof. Latigo

    Value of irrigation is directly proportional to drought severity index, and on cotton, the proof is there in many countries including Uganda. After all, the bottom line is that irrigation is nothing but artificial rain, it boils down to mitigating drought severity there by increasing the yield quantity and quality. Even a peasant cultivator deep in the village who never went to school would have told you that drought has a negative effect on yield. So if you need the government to fund trial research to prove effects of drought on yield, that has been known since ancient times of 3100 BC under King Menes during Egypt’s First Dynasty, then your science has become irrelevant to providing solutions for your people you represent and the nation as a whole.

    In US with GMO Cotton whose fiber length has not been able to reach Uganda’s non-GMO cotton without irrigation, irrigation is highly valued in areas prone to drought. Per U.S.’s Cotton incorporated: “Irrigation has economic benefits to the producer by increasing yield per unit land area, and benefits to society by providing a consistent and dependable source of food and fiber. Irrigation offers safeguards against poor crop performance and/or failure due to insufficient and/or untimely rainfall.” – http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/AgriculturalDisciplines/Engineering/Irrigation-Management/Why-Irrigate-Cotton/

    Note: With GMO Cotton they do believe that getting 1.26inch (32mm) cotton fiber length is exceptionally high quality, while Uganda is starting off with 1.30inch (33mm) without irrigation! http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/quality/US-Fiber-Chart/Ratings-Of-Fiber-Properties/

    And for your convenience, here is conversion chart since U.S, still use British imperial system- http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/inches-to-millimeters-table.htm

    Later.

    Sam.

    P/S. After reading the following, I hope you won’t be asking for trials to prove that drought has a negative effect on Cotton fiber length: “Fiber length is largely influenced by variety, but the cotton plant’s exposure to extreme temperatures, water stress, or nutrient deficiencies may result in shorter fibers.” – http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/quality/Classification-Of-Cotton/Classification-Upland-Cotton/

    You ask: “Which fool fed the President with this scientifically non-substantiated claim?” We have already seen who the fool is and who has been fooled. All you have to do is to check out Burkina Faso Cotton companies suing Monsanto for losses incurred because they took the same advice of going GM Agr. you advocate for.

    Monsanto’s Bt Cotton fiber length in Burkina Faso was too short at 25mm to be of any financial benefit on the world market, with Uganda’s non-GM cotton fiber starting off at 33mm without irrigation, this means the highest quality fetching lot of money on the international market. Instead of being happy for the nation, you are instead vexed. Could it be because the president has finally woken up to the falsehood of some Scientists like you?

    Remember, the president reads and uses internet. He doesn’t need to be told about the total failure of Monsanto’s Bt Cotton in Burkina Faso. It is everywhere you look. Since the president has sent a copy of the letter to the Vice president, he will now also know that Burkina Faso after all got the problems we would have had, had the Parliament gone ahead and rushed to pass the 2012 GMO Bill just like you and he urged the parliament to do.

    Recall the following email (in part)?: Dear Right Honorable Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga,

    In the article titled, “Pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, Sekandi urges” – Posted in Newvision paper online on Nov. 24, 2015; The VP urged the Parliament to pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012, so that Uganda could also benefit from GMOs like Burkina Faso has from GMO Cotton.

    http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/676100-pass-the-biotechnology-and-biosafety-bill-sekandi-urges.html

    The speech was basically only about GMO Agriculture and eerily similar to Prof. Latigo’s article posted in monitor paper online, Sept 30, 2013, http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/We-need-to-urgently-enact-the-biotechnology-and-biosafety-law/-/689364/2012254/-/x5sjlc/-/index.html

    Prof. Latigo’s article is a template for Disaster.

    Association Interprofessionnelle du Coton du Burkina (AICB), which includes notably Burkina Faso Textile Fibre Company (SOFITEX), public sector leader, Faso Coton and the Gourma Cotton Company, announced that they would withdraw from their contracts with Monsanto and phase out GM cotton altogether over the 3-year period.”- http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category.php/features/94939

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Like

  2. FDA approves genetically modified chicken — but not as food: http://www.theverge.com/2015/12/9/9879678/gmo-chicken-transgenic-fda-approved-kanuma-drug-eggs

    But in Africa, GMO Chicken is for food while still in initial testing phase! https://africacgg.net/2016/07/04/on-farm-tests/

    GMO cow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvzK1LV9O8A&spfreload=10

    Eating too much GMO Food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwoYttY0lW0

    Like

  3. Thank you so much Ms. Norah Owagara for posting the above e-mail exchange. Effective dissemination of GMO information, can only be achieved through combined efforts using various media to reach as many Stakeholders in Agriculture as possible. And anything that radically affects Agriculture such as genetically engineering seeds/crops and plants, radically affects every Ugandan.

    In the above case, it all boils down to coming up with a practical, safe and affordable solution that tackles the problem of drought which is devastating agriculture?

    Assuring Ugandans benefits similar to those of the U.S. once GMO crops are adopted is nothing but propaganda, unless Uganda government is willing to do what the U.S. has done besides investing in irrigation, the UG government has to heavily subsidize crops, e.g.: “In all, U.S. crop subsidies to corn totaled roughly $90 billion between 1995 and 2010—not including ethanol subsidies and mandates, which helped drive up the price of corn.

    Today, one of the biggest corn subsidies come in the form of federally supported crop insurance. In fact, for the 2012 season U.S. crop insurance programs will likely pay out an estimated $20 billion or more—shattering all previous records.” – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/time-to-rethink-corn/

    I found it hard to believe that Ms Amelia Kyambadde, made a case for expansion of the list of eligible products to be exported to the U.S. under the AGOA to include products such as sugar and dairy. Only Tobacco made sense. http://www.monitor.co.ug/Business/Prosper/Uganda-takes-a-dice-on-AGOA-initiative/-/688616/3300056/-/uvkhk/-/index.html

    In the U.S., High fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar because among other reasons, corn is heavily subsidized. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

    Dairy, Check out the following: https://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=dairy

    Tobacco may the way to go: http://fortune.com/2013/11/21/tobacco-trade-around-the-world/

    Our officials in trade need to know which foods are on high demand and fetch high revenue in the U.S. Organic products are the key! But unfortunately, our experts don’t seem to be providing that kind of advice.

    “The value of U.S. organic imports that are tracked was $1.4 billion in 2013 (see the ERS table on Organic Trade Excel icon (16×16), “imports” tab). Top U.S. organic imports (in value) in 2013 included bananas, coffee, olive oil, and mangos, which the United States does not produce in large quantities, as well as wine and soybeans.” – http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/organic-agriculture/organic-trade.aspx

    Thanks again “The Humanist View.”

    Like

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