A meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on National Food Security and Research was held on Thursday to discuss the possible introduction of genetically modified food crops in Pakistan.
Secretary of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Dr. Muhammad Hashim Popalzai, informed the meeting that due to health and environmental issues associated with genetically modified food crops, its introduction in the country is not possible. Therefore, the ministry has decided to ban the import of genetically modified maize seeds.
However, the textile industry will be allowed to acquire the necessary technology for the production of BT cotton, a genetically modified variant of cotton plant to withstand tough weather conditions and pesticides.
Pakistan is a non-genetically modified organism (non-GMO) country as far as the production of food is concerned. The countries which import maize from Pakistan also belong to the non-GMO group. Allowing the production of maize using genetically modified seeds would result in disrupting the country’s export of maize to non-GMO countries.
According to Bio-Safety Committee, the import of genetically modified seeds for food production will be allowed once their impact on human health and environment is established. Moreover, the effects of cross-pollination between local food crops and crops grown from genetically modified seeds are yet to be determined.
Representatives of a company specializing in the production of genetically modified seeds were also present in the meeting. They argued that the ban should be removed as these seeds are cost-effective and will bring the costs of pesticides significantly.
For the next meeting, the Seed Association of Pakistan has been extended an invitation to explain their viewpoint on the issue.