REFERENCE TO the current debate of GM crop in Pakistan, I found that Pioneer, Syngenta and Monsanto make the following claims with reference to introduction of GM/Bt Corn in our country:

1. Corn yields will increase

2. Pesticide usage reduction will occur

3.  Economic benefit to Pakistani farmers

The questions that regulators, farmers, media and decision-makers need to ask in this regard are;

a.  Agricultural departments should publicly share Corn/Maize production data since 1999 to-date to establish production increase claim. Also share data since 2009 regarding Bt Corn trials in Pakistan.

b.  Instead of vague claims, Syngenta, Pioneer and Monsanto be asked to declare how much increase in yield per acre is anticipated with reference to Bt or GM Corn. Further, do we need to increase yield? Is there any shortage of Maize/Corn in Pakistan?

c.  Studies on pesticide usage in Pakistan be made public.

d.  It is claimed that environmental benefits will occur due to pesticide usage reduction after GM crops. But we conveniently forget that herbicides lead to resistance development and subsequently create a new environmental threat. Development of resistant Superweeds, Pigweeds etc., in USA and elsewhere are now widely well known facts.

e.  What studies have been conducted which analyze farmer income and anticipated benefits due to GM crops? Monsanto was trying to engage  academies and other agri-research organisations to conduct such sponsored studies.

The government should conduct proper studies exclusively by independent scientists before assessing GM Maize or Corn for Pakistan and discourage promoting propaganda and marketing messages through seminars sponsored by GM/Biotech Seed companies in Pakistan.

Zehra Naqvi @Karachi

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