Biotechnology comes without proper research

Expert says lack of research denies benefits of biotech crops.

Our Correspondent March 02, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Biotechnology is the best option to tackle issues of food security and economic development in developing countries, but in Pakistan it has not yielded desired results because of its entry through ‘back door channels’.

This was the observation of Dr Mariechel Navarro, Manager, Global Knowledge Centre on Crop Biotechnology International Service for Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, who was addressing a workshop titled “International perspective about the future of biotech crops,” here on Friday.

Dr Rhodora Aldemita, Senior Programme Officer of Global Knowledge Centre, also spoke on the use of biotechnology.

Navarro said the biotechnology that was being used on crops in Pakistan was not in line with international standards due to lack of research and development activities as well as insufficient financial resources.

“The number of times pesticides are sprayed has not come down because the technology has entered into the country without research that could address different issues,” she added.

However, she pointed out that biotech cotton in developing countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and South Africa contributed a lot to improving the income of millions of small resource-poor farmers in 2011.

“The income can be enhanced significantly in the remaining four years of the second decade of commercialisation – from 2012 to 2015 – principally with biotech cotton, maize and rice,” Navarro said.

Owing to the significant benefits, a strong growth in cultivated area continued in 2011 with a double-digit increase of 12 million hectares at an annual growth rate of 8%.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.


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Dr. Khalid Abdullah | 9 years ago | Reply

So for my knowledge is concerned, the GM crop (cotton) has come after proper research and development. It is not true that it was introduced through backdoor. Well I agree that some people smuggled the GM seed and planted in their farms like people do with other crops. But the varieties approved for commercialization and general cultivation have been passed through all regulatory and mandatory process and certification process. All GM crops discussed and evaluated at TAC and released for testing by NBC, simultaneously all varieties were tested for two years in 14 research station across the country, then spot examination was done, quality parameters were studied, Gene expression were monitored, and finally discussed at Punjab Seed Counsel before approval. Since it was not a patented gene therefore all private sectors is using this gene in their high yielding varieties through back crossing and all varieties have proved good, that’s why this are under Bt cotton has increased. All except farmers are yelling that Bt cotton is not performing better and may collapse the cotton industry some time as they are using an out dated technology. It is a basic principal that private sector withdraw slowly the older version or model as it launches the new version or model of their product. Similarly, they launched BG-II and RRF in India and other countries and not withdrawing the old technology, not because it is not performing but because they have now product to sell.

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