The Pakistan Climate Change division has finally set up meeting of National Bio-Safety Committee on March 12 (Wednesday) to consider the commercialisation of GMO cotton varieties. The long awaited 15 cotton varieties with Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) likely to get approval from the National Bio-safety Committee (NBC) for commercialisation, sources revealed. The approval of the GMO cotton varieties will not only result in the availability of more certified cotton seed for the upcoming season, but also help in better production.
Certified cotton seed is becoming a serious issue as no BT certified cotton seed will be available for cultivation for the upcoming season due to non-approval of the GMO cotton varieties by the NBC which may encourage the seed-mafia, besides negatively affecting commodity production. Pakistan being a signatory to the international Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has to regulate the GMO through establishing a Bio-safety system. The NBC and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) have responsibility to evaluate, regulate and monitor the GMO for lab or field research and their commercial scale production or marketing.
Currently, the Bt Cotton varieties in Pakistan granted three years certification but now expired are IR-3701, Neelum-121, FH-113, Sitara-008, MG-6, Ali Akbar-703, Ali Akbar 802, IR-1524 and GN Hybrid-2085.
The NBC has not held its meeting since February 2011, which has delayed the regulatory process required to test and approve the GMOs crops. Currently only transgenic crop commercially cultivated in Pakistan is cotton and eight Bt varieties and one cotton Hybrid were approved by Punjab Seed Council (PSC) in April 2010 and commercialisation certificate was granted by the NBC.
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