Bt Corn in Pakistan: Unanswered questions

WE KEEP hearing that introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) or Bt Corn in Pakistan will provide the following benefits:

•  Increase Corn yields

•  Reduce Pesticide usage

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•  Financial benefit for farmers

However, the following questions remain un-answered;

•  To-date, no seed company or government institution has bothered to address the issue of cross-pollination contamination or its prevention due to Bt Corn in Pakistan.

•  Corn/Maize production data since the year 2000 to date. This will give benchmark regarding production increase. Also share data since the year 2010 regarding Bt Corn trials in Pakistan.

•  Instead of claims, seed companies have to answer — how much increase in yield per acre is anticipated with reference to Bt or GM Corn.

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•  It is claimed that environmental benefits will occur due to pesticide usage reduction after GM crops. But we conveniently forget that herbicides lead to resistance development and subsequently create a new environmental threat. Development of resistant Superweeds, Pigweeds etc., in USA and elsewhere are now widely well known facts.

•  What studies have been conducted which analyze farmers income and anticipated benefits due to GM crops?

•  How will GM or Bt Corn affect exports as European countries demand certificates that product doesnt contain GMOs! So is GM Corn beneficial for Pakistan?

•  Government institutes and media people should publicly declare the sponsored trips abroad of Pakistanis, seminars and PR activities conducted so far to influence the GM or BT Cotton and Corn regulatory approval process.

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The government should conduct proper studies before assessing/considering GM Maize or Corn for Pakistan. These studies should be conducted by independent scientists and not sponsored by ISAAA, CropLife or private persons who are funded by multinational seed companies.

Sajjad Haider @Mansehra

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