Pakistan seed association asks gov't not to sign deal with U.S. firm

18:27, November 04, 2010      

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The Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) has warned the government to refrain from signing an agreement with a United States company for hybrid BT cotton seed that will destroy national seed companies, besides causing huge financial burden on the public exchequer, local media reported on Thursday.

Shahzad Ali Malik, SAP Chairman, regretted over the government' s plan to grant exclusive rights to any company that has not passed all the required tests and trials, and threatened to resist strongly against the decision terming it against the global norms.

Talking to media, Malik questioned the agreement with Monsanto, a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, and demanded that the U.S. seed giant must carry out large-scale trials first with Bollgard-II in local varieties to demonstrate its effectiveness against the cotton leaf curl virus and help get clearance if any yield increase is taking place in Pakistan's local climatic conditions.

The government plans to give compensation to the U.S. company for Bollgard-II seed technology, despite the fact that its performance in field trials in local conditions is yet to be proved, Malik said, adding that this special facilitation to the company will destroy the local seed industry.

Since Biocentury Transgene, the outrunner of China's biological technology in agriculture, has the patent rights to fusion gene and is ready to provide the same to Pakistan without any royalty or compensatory amount, why should Pakistan pay the U.S. company for the same technology? Malik asked.

According to reports, the said American company confined field trials in the most cotton productive agricultural provinces Punjab and Sindh during 2010 have not been a success and failed to show resistance to the virus.

The SAP sources reveals that eight local BT cotton varieties ( BG-I) and one hybrid containing Chinese fusion gene were approved by the Punjab government in 2010 but the U.S seed company is seeking the government to sign as a guarantor and pay compensatory amount of 7-14 dollars per acre for any unauthorized planting of BT cotton seed. Virtually, the company is seeking the government to ensure profits and market share for itself.

Pakistan is the world's fourth biggest cotton producer in the world with 9.8 million cotton bales production in 2009, after China, India and the United States.

Experts and agriculture research houses say that the main problems of Pakistani cotton crop are low yield and virus, causing the country to bear a loss of at least four million bales every cotton season.

Source: Xinhua


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