TAC, EPA approve sugarcane GM varieties for cultivation

By Our Correspondent
June 15, 2024
Representational image of sugarcanes. — APP File

FAISALABAD: The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of Pakistan under the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Islamabad has approved two high-yielding and potential varieties of genetically modified (GM) sugarcane including Insect-Resistant Transgenic Sugarcane (CABB-IRS) and Herbicide-Tolerant Transgenic Sugarcane (CABB-HTS) developed by University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF).

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It was recommended for commercialization at the 34th meeting of the TAC held under the chair of Dr Farzana Altaf Shah and VC UAF Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan who congratulated all team members for developing these unique varieties.

These sugarcane varieties carry superior traits like input-responsiveness, early maturing (suitable for plantation even after wheat in April and May), top borer resistance, herbicide tolerance, and a high number of tillers.

“It would prove a millstone for the sugarcane per acre increment. UAF has produced 50 new varieties of different crops, fruits and vegetables for the last three years to increase productivity. Only soybean would help the country to save the $1.5bn import,” said Dr. Iqrar. It is important to note that the first GM borer-resistant sugarcane variety was approved for commercial cultivation in Brazil, and it is saving $1.52bn annually since it has a coveted 15% area under its cultivation.

UAF varieties with superior traits are second in the world, and first in Pakistan approved for commercial cultivation across Pakistan.Prof Sarwar Khan said that the average sugarcane production in the country is 45-50 tons/ha, which is very much low, compared to the average yield worldwide which is around 60 metric tons/ha.

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