GMO challenges: Ministry asked to call crucial meeting

The Federal Law Ministry has finally given a ruling, asking Climate Change Ministry to convene a meeting of National Bio-Safety Committee for granting approval to the long-awaited 15 Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) of cotton varieties for commercialisation, sources revealed. GMO challenges Ministry asked to call crucial meeting 300x300 GMO challenges: Ministry asked to call crucial meeting

Well-placed sources revealed to Business Recorder that Textile division had approached Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the reportedly delaying tactics by the Climate Change Ministry for convening a meeting of NBC.

Prime Minister on January 16, 2014 constituted a committee comprising Secretary Textile division, Secretary Law and Secretary Climate Change and directed them to hold a meeting within 10 days for resolving the issue. The committee met last week and Law division gave a ruling asking for convening a meeting of NBC to grant approval for commercialisation of cotton seeds, sources maintained.

Certified cotton seed was becoming a serious issue as no BT certified cotton seed would be available for cultivation for the upcoming crop season due to non-approval of GMO cotton varieties by NBC which might encourage the seed-mafia, besides negatively impacting commodity production, official maintained.

Official sources revealed that Pakistan being a signatory to the international Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety had to regulate GMO through establishing a Bio-safety system in the country. NBC and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) have responsibility to evaluate, regulate and monitor GMO for lab or field research and their commercial scale production or marketing in the country.

The NBC had not held its meeting since February 2011, which had delayed the regulatory process required to test and approve GMOs crops, said sources, adding that applications submitted by various public and private sectors organisations seeking approval of different GMO crops were yet to be reviewed by the NBC.

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Currently only transgenic crop commercially cultivated in Pakistan is cotton and eight BT varieties and one cotton Hybrid were approved by Punjab Seed Council (PSC) in April 2010 and commercialisation certificate was granted by NBC. In February 2012, PSC provisionally approved eight BT varieties (Tarzen-1, MNH-886, NS-141, FH-114, IR-NIBGE-3, CIM-598, Sitara-009, A-One) subject to the grant of commercialisation certificate from the NBC and TAC had to clear cases before consideration in NBC, sources maintained.

BT cotton varieties in Pakistan, which were granted certificate for three years (now expired) included IR-3701, Neelum-121, FH-113, Sitara-008, MG-6, Ali Akbar-703, Ali Akbar 802, IR-1524 and GN Hybrid-2085. BT cotton varieties waiting for commercialisation certificate included Tarzen-1, VH-259, MNH-886, BH-178, NS-141, CIM-599, FH-114, CIM-602, IR-NIBGE-3, FH-118, CIM-598, FH-142, Sitara 009, IR-NIBGE-824, A-One IUB-222, Sayaban-201, Sitara-11M, A-555, KZ-181, Tarzan-2 and CA-12.

Source: Business Recorder

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