STAFF REPORT IBD: The Federal Seed Certification Department has issued prior warning that new varieties of bio-tech (Bt) Cotton may not be available for the next season mainly due to the delay in obtaining commercialisation certificate from the National Bio-safety Committee (NBC), which will cause shortage of standard seeds besides, negatively affecting crop production in Pakistan.

“In February 2012, the Punjab Seed Council (PSC) had approved eight BT Cotton seed varieties in addition to nine other approved in 2010. As per signatory of Convention of Biological Diversity, for release of BT variety, a commercialisation certificate from the NBC under the MoCC is mandatory prior to the cultivation.

If commercialisation certificate was not granted in time, the cultivation of these eight BT varieties would not be possible,” sources cautioned.

According to the sources, the Federal Seed Certification Department has already conveyed its reservations to the Punjab Seed Council in this regard.

The fate of new GMOs, waiting for commercialisation and labelling, hangs in the balance due to the absence of proper legislation, as the NBC has been dysfunctional since long, the sources maintained.

“The delay in issuance of the commercialisation certificate may reduce the availability of cotton seed for the upcoming cotton sowing season,” Dr Khalid Abdullah Cotton Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, told the media.

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