NEW DEHLI: Indian companies are planning to export Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton seeds to Pakistan for trial purposes due to growing demand of the hybrid variety.
In the last six months, at least three Indian companies have got the nod from their bio-tech regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for the export of Bt cotton seeds. These seeds will be used to conduct field trials in different climatic zones in Pakistan, the Indian media reported.
Pakistani firms hope that they will be able to get the government’s approval for commercial cultivation of Bt cotton in view of regular talks between agriculture ministries of China and Pakistan on developing Bt cotton varieties and also in view of the latter signing a pact with US company Monsanto for supply of seeds a few months ago.
GEAC, in its last meeting in September, permitted Bioseed Research India to export Bt cotton BGII (Bollgard) hybrids to Monsanto Pakistan Agritech Limited. The no-objection certificate, however, was subject to approval from Chennai-based National Biodiversity Authority and Pakistan’s National Bio-safety Committee.
Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton growing country in the world and its total crop area is around 40 per cent of the area sown in India. In 2008, four million Indian farmers cultivated over 300 Bt cotton seed varieties on 79 per cent of the total crop area.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.