NA body briefed on genetically modified crops

October 18, 2019

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Parliamentary committee and ministry of national food security argue genetically modified crops cause health and environment hazards. — AP/File
Parliamentary committee and ministry of national food security argue genetically modified crops cause health and environment hazards. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Nat­ional Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research on Thursday was briefed on the prospects for the introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops in the country.

The ministry of national food security and research and the parliamentary committee were in disagreement over the introduction of GM crops since the ministry strongly opposed the use of GM seeds, arguing that these carry health and environmental implications for human life.

Secretary of the ministry Muhammad Hashim Popalzai informed the committee members that the bio-safety committee had imposed a ban on the trials of GM crops, whereas the ministry of commerce had also opposed GM technology, saying that it would hurt exports.

The ministry of health opposed it on the grounds that it would harm public health, while the climate change ministry was of the view that GM crops would have environmental impact.

Committee chairman Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan and members of the committee stated that they would try to convince the ministries opposing GM technology.

On this, Mr Popalzai informed the committee chairman and members that the ministry was ready to introduce the technology in cotton crop but would not support GM seeds for maize crop. The prime minister had also been given a briefing on this issue when he convened a meeting to introduce GM crops in the country, he said.

It was informed that the ministry of national food security had taken input from all stakeholders and submitted a comprehensive report to the prime minister. The report enlisted the consequences that have health and environment impact as per stakeholder and would also hit exports since a major corn oil producer now marketing its product in Pakistan had conveyed to authorities that it would not import corn from Pakistan if the country decided to use GM seeds.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019