Agricultural experts, while speaking at a meeting convened by the Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP), said that developing countries like Pakistan would have to adopt genetically modified/biotech crops in the shortest possible time to ensure food security for rapidly growing population, saying that the future of agriculture growth depends on biotechnology.
“The sale of illegal/substandard seeds especially Bt cotton seeds is another important issue that needs to be addressed by the government on priority basis to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country,” they unanimously said while speaking at extra ordinary general body meeting of Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) here the other day to apprise the farmers about bio-tech crops and emerging issues.
On this occasion, corn growers also urged the government to approve the genetically modified (GM) corn, which is being planted successfully across the globe for commercial plantation in Pakistan.
The agro scientists were of the view that the sale of illegal/substandard seeds is wreaking havoc on the agriculture of Pakistan and there is fear of huge decline in the production of important crops especially cash crop cotton if the government did not check the sale of fake Bt cotton seeds. “Though the mighty fake seed mafia has been playing havoc with the agriculture of the country since long but it was not before the introduction Bt cotton in Pakistan through informal channel that this mafia really got the opportunity it was looking for to penetrate into the market and sell everything in the name of Bt cotton,” the experts said.
However, this issue can be resolved gradually by developing a professional seed industry in the country, they said, adding that the role of government is critical in this regard. Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Khan and Dr Iqrar Ahmad from Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (University of Agriculture Faisalabad) informed the audience that a study on Bt cotton seeds conducted by UAF revealed that Bt gene expression in most the Bt cotton varieties currently available in the country is very low. “According to the study, only 4 out of a total of 52 Bt cotton varieties available in the market have the standard gene expression and that’s the reason why the country is unable to fully benefit from this high-yielding technology,” they said.