ISLAMABAD: Farmers and agriculture scientists are alarmed by the destructive attack of bollworms this year that seem to have developed resistance against the genetically-modified (GM) cotton crop.

The surprise comes especially when different species of bollworms, such as American, Pink and Spotted bollworm, were supposed to be eradicated after feasting on the GM Bt cotton crop. Instead, these destructive pests have attacked a major cotton growing belt in Southern Punjab, this year.

Farmers fear instead of being eliminated, the bollworms developed resistance due to insufficient toxin levels in Bt cotton crop.

Experts believe that low level of toxins in the GM crops have immunised the pests instead of killing them.

They fear that if not controlled, the pests attack on cotton crop will most likely damage the quality of fibre and the cotton seed, resulting in a decline in the yield this year.

According to experts in Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), pests have possibly started developing a resistance against Bt crops, since they were introduced in 2004-05. The genetically modified cotton seeds contain insufficient dose of toxins that killed pests and were also of poor quality.

A senior official also said that there is no national pest management programme to educate farmers regarding pests and to monitor the development of resistance.

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