Pakistan Observer

BT cotton new varieties may not be available

Staff Reporter

Sunday, November 25, 2012 - Islamabad—The Federal Seed Certification Department has issued prior warning that new varieties of bio-tech (Bt) Cotton may not be available for the next season due to delay in obtaining commercialisation certificate from the National Bio-safety Committee (NBC), which will cause shortage of standard seeds besides, negatively affecting crop production.

In February 2012, Punjab Seed Council (PSC) has approved eight BT Cotton seed varieties in addition to nine other approved in 2010. As per signatory of Convention of Biological Diversity, for release of BT variety, a commercialisation certificate from the National Bio-safety Committee under the Ministry of Climate Change is mandatory prior to the cultivation.

If commercialization certificate was not granted in time, the cultivation of these eight BT varieties would not be possible.

Sources revealed that the Federal Seed Certification Department has conveyed its reservations to the Punjab Seed Council in this regard.

Pakistan is the ninth country that adopted Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) or Transgenic Crop Cultivation (TCC) and BT cotton was the first crop approved for commercial cultivation, in 2010.

Interestingly, India allowed BT cotton in 2002. Transgenic crops revolutionized the agriculture productivity in various countries.

The fate of new GMOs, waiting for commercialisation and labeling, hangs in the balance due to absence of proper legislation, as the National Bio-safety Committee (NBC) has been dysfunctional since long, sources maintained.

committee functional, however it is yet to be approved, sources revealed.

Applications submitted by various public and private sectors organisations seeking approval of different GM crops are being reviewed by the NBC.

Dr Khalid Abdullah Cotton Commissioner, Ministry of Textile said that area inspected by the concerned regulatory department for seed certification is producing 5,000MT of cotton seed against the total requirement of 40,000MT for the country.

He showed concerns, saying that delay in issuance of the commercialisation certificate may reduce the availability of cotton seed for the upcoming cotton sowing season. However, he said that only timely issuance of certificates could avert these crises. Quality seed contributes 20-40 per cent to the productivity of any crop including cotton, he maintained.

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