ISLAMABAD: The food ministry has announced that no seeds, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), would be permitted into the country without complying with the prescribed Plant Quarantine Regulations and Seed Regulations.

The announcement was made by the caretaker federal minister Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik in a statement on Friday, after a meeting with the All Pakistan Solvent Extractors Association (APSEA).

The APSEA asserts that chicken prices in the country are closely tied to the import of GMO soybeans, given that soybean meal is a primary component of chicken feed.

Dr Malik emphasised that seed imports would only proceed after fulfilling proper procedures and underscored the significance of encouraging the cultivation of domestic oilseed crops to make use of underutilised land, aligning with Pakistan’s domestic and national priorities.

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research reaffirmed its support to the industry while ensuring strict adherence to the law.

Dr Malik called for a technical and commercial research report within a week regarding the potential import of GMO seeds for oil extraction and meal production.

Secretary Ministry of National Food Security retired Captain Muhammad Mahmood proposed forming a committee comprising key stakeholders to study global standard operating procedures and sanitary and phytosanitary protocols for GMO soybean seed importation.

The committee’s objective is to mitigate biosecurity, biosafety, and food security risks associated with GMO soybean seed imports in Pakistan.

However, sources in the food ministry said that the representatives of the Climate Change Ministry were not invited to the meeting, despite the fact that the subject of GMO falls under the Environmental Protection Agency, an attached department of the Climate Change Ministry.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2023

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