LAHORE: Stakeholders have warned the new government against experimenting with the healthy maize crop, saying farmers, dairy and livestock sector, seed producers and industrialists are satisfied with the increase in harvest.
The federal government is in consultation with the stakeholders for introducing imported genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in the near future. These seeds will be protected from some pests and will have tolerance against lethal pesticides.
The new technology, however, will be detrimental to the local maize varieties as it will contaminate them due to cross-pollination.
The stakeholders have fiercely opposed the large-scale import of costly and potentially hazardous GM maize seeds. They argue that the maize crop has been showing tremendous results and there is no major challenge to its cultivation that needs any intervention.
Local seed producers have also asked the government to pressurise multinational companies to produce maize seeds locally. A spokesman for the Seed Association of Pakistan said the Seed Amendment Act 2015 and Plant Breeders Right Act 2016 were in place which protected the seed producers.
Now, the main precondition of multinational seed companies has been met for local seed production. Therefore, the multinational companies should be bound to ensure local production of hybrid seeds, which would reduce the import bill and would also benefit the farmers, he emphasised.
Furthermore, Agri-Forum Pakistan Chairman Ibrahim Mughal said the national maize industry, which was a major buyer of the crop, would be affected due to the introduction of GM seed as exports of value-added maize products, which require GMO labeling, would be adversely affected.
This will negatively affect export price of the produce and will fetch lower value for the farmers. The farmers will end up bearing a higher cost of production at the expense of a negligible increase in the yield while Pakistani maize products will be banned in non-GM countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2018.