STAFF REPORT ISB: The federal government is opening doors for introducing various varieties of cotton seeds produced by foreign firms despite a ban on their import.

The Plant Quarantine Act 1976 prohibits the import of any kind of cotton seed, both genetically modified (GMO) and non-genetically modified.

The Act also prohibits the import of cotton from America and states. “American cotton shall not be imported into Pakistan by any means except with a special permission. No vessel carrying American cotton shall enter the territorial water of Pakistan.”

“The American Sundi (army worm) and the red bug to mention a few infamous pests came from America. A strict ban was imperative because cotton is Pakistans strategic crop and used to be pest and disease free,” said an agriculture scientist from PARC.

According to PARC officials, the move followed claims by foreign seed and pesticide producing companies that adopting new cotton varieties would double Pakistans cotton produce from an average 12 to 13 million bales a year to 26 million bales per year.

“We need to learn from world experiences if these two varieties are suitable in Pakistans environment. We need to also make sure that they do not pose health and environmental risks in the long run,” said Chairman Seed Association of Pakistan, Sarfraz Ahmad Khalid.

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