Ill-intention behind BtCotton seed pack-up

THE DEBATE on introducing Bt Cotton in Pakistan had engaged all the stakeholders in arguments and counter-arguments for the last couple of years. Though the government a couple of months back had decided not to go for commercial use of this seed due to the various negative factors attached with this crop variety, there are certain groups still pleading for adopting this seed or have been involved in plaguing the situation for the farming community. Following the introduction of Bt Cotton seed in the country, especially the government of Punjab has been monitoring and analyzing this seed crop. In 2010, it had also released a set guidelines and cautions for the farming community in order to ensure the original and pure seeds reach the farmers. It had also instructed for constitution of district level committees having seed and pest experts who would monitor the resistance management in the area. Similarly, the DGA (Research) would prepare a plan of work for these committees and a short training was also arranged to explain the farmers about the monitoring of pest resistance. Besides, weight of the seed bags, back support availability by companies during the cropping season and several related instructions were instructed to be followed for the Bt Cotton seeds supply to farmers. However, it did not happen at all as these instructions were totally ignored by the distribution companies in connivance of the US-based distribution company – Monsanto, the main brain behind introducing the BtCotton seed in Pakistan. The directed information tags were not placed on the seed bags by the local seed distribution companies. The provincial governments casual towards ensuring implementation of its directed instructions also contributed in plaguing the situation. The Punjab Agriculture Department should have ensured that all information was displayed on the seed bags. These problems did not end here as the poor quality and low germination in Bt Cotton seeds was also a huge problem. The seed bags did not properly inform the expected or approximate germination level. Thus farmers suffered a lot. The absence of tags did make it impossible for the farmers to verify the claims about the Bt Cotton seed bags quality. Despite the third year of Bt Cotton planting in Pakistan, optimum toxin levels in Bt Cotton seeds have not been set and determined so far. The seed toxin like pesticides should have been clearly determined so that optimum gene expression and quality could be determined. The introduction of Bt Cotton seed in Pakistan is a gigantic task which, if achieved, could significantly increase the per acre yield of cotton crop, however, that needs a comprehensive homework before the full-scale launching of this seed.

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