Seed association lauds government
Pakistan Today, 5 January 2012

LAHORE – Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) President Shahzad Ali Malik has appreciated Punjab government for scrapping the deal with Monsanto saying that Monsanto proposed BT cotton model in Pakistan would have created its monopoly and in turn would have endangered the existence of the national seed sector.

Shahzad was commenting on a recently published news item in the press and said by not accepting the deal, Punjab government has avoided an unnecessary financial burden as Monsanto’s royalty demands for Bollgard-2 technology were too high and aimed at creating a monopoly. The national seed sector appreciates the need to introduce technology but in an open and fair way so that all seed companies operating in Pakistan can have an even playing field,” he said in a statement issued here Friday.

Throughout last three years, Monsanto has been demanding a per acre ‘royalty fee’ for its technology but failed to demonstrate that its technology would significantly increase yields or be effective against Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) or mealy bugs which are the main crop pests in Pakistan. The so-called best technology was in fact ineffective against Pakistani cotton crop pests like CLCV, White Fly and Mealy bugs so its utility and financial guarantees would have cost the Punjab government with no added benefits than current varietal seeds.

“Government should concentrate on improving research and development institutes and create linkages with eminent foreign institutes which will allow our scientists to gain better understanding of the local crop pests and improve the technologies relating to agriculture.” Shahzad added.

Punjab government had explored the possibility of introducing BT Cotton technology (Bollgard-2 and Round up Ready Flex) but the company demanded guarantees and royalties which virtually meant guaranteeing pay-offs to off-set its supposed losses. However, after detailed discussions, it became clear that cost of this technology was too high and there was no guarantee of any cotton yield increase. Reports from Australia, India and other countries proved that government involvement in this issue would be like protecting one company and discouraging its competitors.

"We can increase yields by 2-3 million immediately if we are able to improve seed quality and develop a remedy for Cotton Leaf Curl Virus. National seed sector remains committed to strive continuously in this direction and provide better seeds to farmers", said Malik. 

Secretary agriculture Punjab, Mr Arif Nadeem and minister for agriculture Ahmad Ali Aulakh had recently announced in the media that BT cotton deal with Monsanto was off the table.