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Reap cautious about new Genetically Modified varieties of rice

KARACHI (November 20 2002) : Dr Zia-ud-Din, Director, Centre of Excellence for Molecular Biology (CEMB), has suggested that 'Genetically Modified (GM)' new variety of Basmati rice, evolved by the centre, should be handed over to the Agriculture Department for undertaking. 

bio-safety test after which the crop could be used for public consumption. He made this suggestion recently during a presentation to the Governor Punjab, said a press release issued here on Tuesday by Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap).

It added that presently various world markets are conscious and concerned about 'genetically modified products (GMP)' and a ban has been imposed by the importing countries against import of GMP into their countries.

Accordingly, the Reap members discourage growing of GM rice with a view to  ensuring/encouraging maximum export of conventional or organic rice from Pakistan to various international markets. The evidence, which Reap has gathered, demonstrates that the GM food crops are far from a success story.

In complete contrast to the impression given by the world biotechnology industry, most of the claimed benefits have not been realised. Widespread GM contamination has severely disrupted GM-free production, on the other hand, GM crops have also increased the reliance of farmers on herbicides.

Organic farmers world over are struggling practically and economically to sell their product as organic due to contamination since seeds have become almost contaminated with GM and entail high risk of contamination.

In view of the stated position, the Reap thinks that evolution of the latest variety of genetically modified Basmati rice is an alarming situation and warrants immediate appropriate corrective action.

The genetically modified crops would obstruct the government from meeting its policy objectives that farming should be more competitive. It should ensure that the expansion of organic farming is not undermined by the introduction/ evolution of new GM varieties of rice.

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