PSC set to approve locally dev BT cotton varieties

Ten Bt cotton varieties include CEMB-I & II, Bt-121, FH-113, MG-6, IRFH-901, IR 1524, Star-008, 802 and 703 will be put before the PSC mostly evolved by the progressive farmers of Multan, which is likely to meet in the first week of February, for its approval, an official privy to the development told this correspondent. “Yes, the varieties which would be placed before the council have the characteristics of Bt gene,” an authority on GMO crops told, adding “the expression level for effective resistance against pest is minimal.” “These seed companies don’t even have qualified scientists for developing GMO seeds but they are presenting their seeds for approval by the council,” he alleged. There is no officially approved Bt cotton variety in the country and about 80 percent of Bt cotton cultivation is based on unapproved varieties in the main cotton-growing areas of Punjab. The Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MINFA) and Monsanto (USA) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) this May for using collective expertise to expand cotton production in Pakistan through the introduction of Monsanto’s insect-protection technology Bollgard-II. This LoI defines in general the basis for the parties to extend co-operation to advance transgenic technology in the agriculture sector of Pakistan. Under the LoI, they will pursue collaborative efforts to introduce genetically modified cotton varieties in Pakistan. However, the LoI has been lying with the law ministry for vetting since May and a powerful lobby backed by a parliamentarian and former federal minister from southern Punjab is blocking the US company’s move to introduce the technology, an official of the food ministry told this correspondent on the condition of anonymity. Chairman PARC Dr Zafar Altaf has brought nearly one ton of Bt seed from China when he visited China last year. Similarly, the Government of Punjab also signed an agreement with Chinese for bringing Chinese Bt technology. With this local approval of Bt variety and Chinese introduction of Bt, an official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture told that it would definitely help not only to enhance the cotton production but also to uncontrollable CLCV menace. However, the negotiations between the ministry of food and agriculture and Monsanto for bringing Bollgard-II technology will have lasting effect on cotton production, he added.


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