In a fresh bid to restart the legislation process from where it was discontinued earlier, a summary is being sent to the Prime Minister Secretariat, seeking exemption over the lapse of the proposed Seed Amendment Act 2010, which could not be tabled before the parliament prior to its dissolution in 2013.
The passage of the Seed Act is vital for ensuring provision of quality seed to farmers, said Syed Muhammad Nasir Ali, Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department (FSCRD) director general, while speaking at a seminar on ‘Employing Modern Technologies in the Agriculture Sector’, held under the aegis of the Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA).
He said that modern technologies like genetically-modified seeds could not be introduced due to lack of legal cover. “Inadequate legal cover has been a major challenge in launching Bt cotton certification for the private seed sector,” he observed. Moreover, he added, private seed breeders cannot produce basic seed under the prevalent legal framework.
He stressed the need to remove obstacles in issuing Bt cotton certification, while addressing challenges relating to legal framework for clearance, regulation and certiﬁcation.
He informed that Bt cotton made its way in Pakistan in 2007 and officially got the green signal by approval forums of the country in March 2010. About 80% of cotton-growing areas constitutes Bt varieties. However, he admitted that low level of Bt toxin in seeds has been a major problem.
Ali said his department is also striving to introduce legislation on Plant Breeders’ Rights and initiation of accreditation schemes for the central seed testing lab.
“We are also in process of launching of Fruit Plant Certification Scheme.”
Major functions of FSCRD are registration of crop varieties, crop inspection, seed sampling and testing, monitoring of seed quality in the market and at the port of entry.
Muhammad Asim, Biotech Committee of Crop-Life Pakistan chairman, said his association is working for the promotion of sustainable agriculture through the process of research, development, manufacture and sale of new/innovative and safe products and services in the areas of plant biotechnology, seeds and crop protection products. The basic purpose of CLP is to create and enhance acceptance of biotechnology by closely working with regulators, scientists, farmers, media, industry, academics and civil society, he added.
He stressed the need to adopt modern technologies in the field of agriculture, saying that Pakistan is close to using all of the available surface and ground water in its effort to meet food and fibre requirements. However, he added, it is projected that over 30% more water will be needed to meet agricultural, domestic and industrial demand over the next 20 years.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2014.
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