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PEW asks govt to reconsider genetically engineered seed deal

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Islamabad:The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday urged the government to reconsider plan to import genetically modified cottonseed developed in India. Monsanto formed in 1901 in the US introduced BT cotton seed in Pakistan in 1998. It has been tested in two dozen countries, majority have experienced problems, it said.

Pros and cons of BT cotton are being debated across the world while many Pakistani scientists have opposed it. Their reservations should be considered before finalising decision to import BT cotton seed from India. Such deals without getting experts on board could have far-reaching repercussions, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President, PEW.

Hasty contract at a time when country is poised to face record cotton shortfall may not do any good, he said. Majority of local growers who have used that so-called “pest resistant” seed have reported lack of efficacy. Therefore, government must convince stakeholders that spending one billion dollars will bring a change, he demanded.

“Growers should not be forced to pay for the profit of controversial multinationals known for political lobbying, forced seed commercialization and strong-arming,” he said adding that such practices are violation of rights of planters.

There is no rationale in allowing multinationals to do what they have already done in India, China, Japan, Argentina and other countries where reliance on a single gene has led to greater pest resistance, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal. The high death rate among livestock after grazing on post-harvest BT cotton crops cannot be ignored. We should keep our seed and food system in our hands by preferring local wisdom over imported solutions. Government should try to end woes of the growers who are already facing multiple problems.

Pak Economy Watch

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