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Pakistan mulls GMOs; consultations underway

By our correspondents
September 29, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is considering biotech crops for manifolding the yield to not only rake in more revenue by exporting the surplus produce but to also ensure food security for the growing population in the face of potential adverse effects of changing climate, an official said on Thursday. 

“The government of Pakistan needs to introduce biotechnology and other modern methods to enhance farm production beyond self-sufficiency,” said Dr Tan Siang-Hee, executive director of CropLife Asia, a Singapore-based crop science research organisation, in a media briefing.

"Pakistan is on track, and after attaining self-sufficiency in food, the country needs to adopt such modern technologies and methods which would help make agricultural production sustainable and improve conditions of the farmers." 

Hee emphasised that Pakistani farmers must be educated about the benefits of biotechnology, improvements in infrastructure of agriculture as a whole, and suggested the government to take measures for value-addition, processing and efficient mechanism for export of fruits and vegetables. 

Meanwhile, a CropLife Asia delegation called on Sikander Hayat Bosan, the federal minister for national food security and research, at his office. Briefing the minister about Crop Life Asia and the use of biotechnology, Hee urged the ministry to play the leading role in formulating and then introducing responsible regulations on the use of biotechnology and GMOs. 

“Pakistan is an innovative country and ready to adapt to new challenges. Many international regulating authorities have approved biotechnology,” Hee said.  Bosan lauded the research organisation for playing an active role in increasing the production of crops in Pakistan through educating farmers, introducing safe and effective products, and providing training to growers and agriculture staff. 

“The matter of using biotechnology is already under consideration and we will develop a consensus over it after consultations. A committee has already been formed for the same,” Bosan said responding to Hee’s suggestions. 

Hee disclosed that 18 million farmers around the world have successfully adopted bio-technology; with this, the total beneficiary peasant families have reached 65 million. “Globally, a total area of biotech crops since 1996 has reached 185.1 million hectares in 26 industrialized and developing countries,” Hee said adding most of the European Union countries, Japan, Korea and China are importing genetically modified corn, soya, soya-meal, and canola.  CropLife Asia is a Singapore-based international organization- carrying out research and development to introduce innovations in crop protection and plant biotechnology.