Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research of National Assembly discussing genetically modified organism (GMO) to highlight benefits of GM corn crop, which is banned in the country now a days.
The seventh meeting of the Standing Committee on National Food Security held at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc). Its agenda included discussion on the introduction of GM seeds in Pakistan coupled with a briefing by Crop Life Pakistan on Bt cotton and Bt corn. Crop Life Pakistan is a joint platform of multinational seed companies.
Several members of the standing committee have already spoken their doubts about the introduction of GM corn in the country.
Current government had decided to stop commercial cultivation of GM corn in the country. In light of the policy guidelines provided by the federal government, the decision to forbid commercial plantation was subsequently communicated by the governments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the two major maize growing provinces, through separate letters.
Despite clear policy guidelines on not adopting biotechnology in food crops, various members of the standing committee have expressed their wonder over discussion on so called benefits of GM corn. MNA from Sahiwal Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf which is a major maize growing area said “he was unable to understand the logic behind repeated discussion on the GMO technology in meetings of the standing committee and vowed to oppose GM corn forcefully in the upcoming meeting”.
Similar views were coming from MNA from Burewala Choudhary Faqir Ahmad that “I am strongly against granting permission for cultivating GM corn and Pakistan must not allow import of such seeds because they were not suitable for plantation in the country”.
MNA from Peshawar Shaukat Ali, and MNA from Lahore Dr Nausheen Hamid also expressed their reservations about the introduction of GM corn in the country.
Chairman Standing Committee Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan said “no decision to stop commercial cultivation of GM maize had been made by the current government”.
He pointed out that “the participants would listen to the companies’ perspective once again but mainly for the cotton crop. Cotton production in Pakistan had experienced a dip in recent years, though in India per acre yield had increased sharply following use of Bt seeds.