Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia have chosen a cautious approach and lag behind in adopting biotechnology for enhancing agriculture production, while Philippines, China and India have taken the lead in this regard.
This emerged at a session organised by CropLife Asia and Biotech Coalition of the Philippines as part of Sixth Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange Programme at Subic Bay, the Philippines, according to a statement.
Ilyas Nadeem, Commercial Operation Lead at Monsanto, Pakistan, said the introduction of formally certified genetically modified (GM) crops in the country had been a distant reality due to various factors.
He added that almost all the Bt cotton in the country was not properly certified and largely came from informal sources.
About commercialisation of GM maize, he said, field trials were being carried out in the country and it is hoped that commercial plantation of GM maize would be allowed following completion of prescribed procedure. Dr Mohammad Zafar Hayat, District Governor, Lodhran, Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP), said that “some of the fears we had about biotech crops were not based on scientific bases, but rather they were based on possible future events which may happen, like damage to biodiversity, ecosystem and human health issues”.
Even if they are based on assumptions, and hence psychological in origin, still they need to be answered, which means that the organisation developing biotech crops- whether they are from private or public sector- have to address this issue, he observed.
Despite the fact that biotech crops can be the potential solution to overcome the food security issue arising because of fast growing world population, he added, still it would be the choice of people determining the course of action on biotech crops.
“I believe that we, the farmers, and those who own genetically modified organism technology should work together to answer and overcome the fear of common people,” he maintained.
Representatives of as many as nine Asian countries participated in the session and talked about issues relating to adoption of biotechnology in their respective countries.