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Agreement on Bt Cotton will spell disaster – LCCI
03
Nov '10
The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned the Punjab government that its plan to sign an agreement with a US company for hybrid Bt Cotton seed will spell disaster for national seed companies besides causing huge financial burden on public exchequer. “There is no second opinion about it that country's future lies in Biotechnology as long as it helps Pakistani farmers and brings in investments but granting exclusive rights to any company that has not passed all the required tests and trials means wastage of precious resources that would be resisted at all costs.”

These views were expressed by the LCCI President and Chairman Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) Shahzad Ali Malik while addressing the Executive Committee of SAP here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The LCCI President said that the Agreement with Monsanto without large-scale field trials of local cotton seed varieties, yield-increase commitment and no solution to Cotton Leaf Curl virus (CLCuV) will not only hurt the interests of the farming community but it would also be useless.

Monsanto is trying to get compensation for Bollgard-II seed technology despite the fact that its performance in field trials in local conditions is yet to be proved. Shahzad Ali Malik said that Monsanto should be facilitated in Pakistan but royalty or compensatory payments for Monsanto or any other company should not be approved by the Government as this will not only discourage competition in the local market but will also kill the local seed industry which will only become licensees of Monsanto creating monopoly.

The LCCI President said that Monsanto must carry-out large-scale trials first with Bollgard-II in local varieties to demonstrate its effectiveness against Cotton Leaf Curl virus and help in getting clarity if any yield increase is taking place in our local climatic condition. Without yield increase there is no point in signing the agreement with Monsanto.

The LCCI President informed the Seed Association that the German multinational BAYER is providing the same technology (Bollgard II) without asking for any royalty and compensatory amount. So is the case with Biocentury Transgene, China's #1 biotechnology provider, which has the patent rights to fusion gene and is prepared to provide the same to Pakistan without royalty. Why should we then pay Monsanto for the same technology when we can get it for next to nothing? It was pointed out that Monsanto is asking the Government to sign as a guarantor and pay compensatory amount of 7-14 U.S dollars per acre for any unauthorized planting of Bt cotton seed.

Virtually the company is asking the government to ensure profits and market share for itself. Shahzad Ali Malik said that the main problems of Pakistani Cotton crop are low yield and Cotton Leaf Curl virus (CLCuV) that results in 3-4 million bales loss every cotton season. He said that Monsanto's confined filed trialsin Punjab and Sindh during 2010 have not been a success & failed to show resistance to CLCuV. The trials were of imported Indian hybrid cotton seed and not local

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