HARIPUR: The farming community in Haripur protested against the proposed Seed Act 2014 on Friday and termed the legislation tantamount to a sacrifice of national interests.
Organised by Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Tehreek (PMKT), the rally started from Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Hall and culminated at Panian Chowk, GT Road. Farmers from different areas of the district joined the march and chanted slogans in favour of their demands.
Addressing the participants, PMKT district coordinator Fiaz Ahmed condemned the proposed legislation, which he said was formulated “in light of foreign interests”. Ahmed said for centuries farmers of the region have been using seeds preserved with traditional methods and the new legislation will deprive them of their cultural practices. He said the act will hegemonise the seed industry and transfer control to multinational companies.
Ahmed said dependence on genetically-engineered seeds provided by multinationals will result in exploitation.
Rehm Nawaz, an agriculturist, said developed countries have forbidden the use of genetically-engineered seeds owing to their devastating impact on land fertility and living organisms. Nawaz claimed world powers are pressing third world countries to adopt such laws in order to break their agro-based economies apart.
He said the available seed technology is sufficient for generations to come and the government should instead provide incentives to local farmers for adopting organic methods of farming that are both environment and health-friendly.
Protesters warned the government not to jeopardise the interests of the sector. They threatened to continue demonstrating until the government rolls the proposed law back.
In October 2014, the Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research (NFSR) approved the proposed bill which, once implemented, will replace the existing Seed Act 1976. The bill, in line for approval from the house for several years, will extend public sector involvement in production, multiplication and distribution of seeds.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2015.
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