STAFF REPORT LHR:Punjab, the largest cotton producing province of the country, has decided to drop the proposal of formally introducing certified imported seed of Bt cotton primarily on financial grounds that outweigh the benefits of biotechnology.

Arif Nadeem, Secretary Agriculture Punjab, said thatPunjabhas dropped the idea of introducing the Bt cotton seed in collaboration with Monsanto. He also said that negotiations in this connection have ended without yielding any tangible result.

A major reason why policy makers inPunjabhave decided to cancel finalising deal with biotech giant Monsanto is the changing cotton scene, official sources say.

The biggest threat to cotton inPunjabhas been the mutated type of cotton leaf curl virus and there is no remedy available with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton seed against this menace, the sources add.

Top officials of the Provincial Agriculture Department say that mealy bug has emerged as a potent threat to cotton plant and genetically modified (GM) seed of cotton provides no solution to it.

It may be noted that GM cotton was developed by adding a toxic gene (Bacillus thuringiensis) in seed, causing production of this natural insecticide in its tissues that kills various pests.

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