lahore - Pakistan can address challenges in agriculture by embracing biotechnology as globally the adoption of genetically modified crops has been a success with proven socio-economic benefits. In addition to meeting food security challenge, genetically modified/biotech crops offer multiple economic, crop management, productivity, and environmental benefits. Benefits that these crops offer include, but not limited to, better yields and guarding against insect pests and weeds as well as being cost effective and less labour intensive, say biotech industry representatives.

They were giving briefing to a delegation of the Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA) about latest agricultural technologies including biotechnology during their visit to Monsanto Pakistan’s state-of-the-art research centre in Manga Mandi, where the company is conducting field trials of its GM corn product “VT Double Pro” and various vegetables and fruits. The journalists also visited the field trails site. On the occasion, Monsanto Pakistan Regulatory Affairs Lead Muhammad Asim, Breeding Lead Abdul Ghffar and other company officials briefed the visitors about the benefits of GM corn as well as biotechnology and answered their queries.

They informed the journalists that their company had completed the field trials of GM corn and now they were awaiting government’s approval to launch the product in the market. They claimed that GM corn can increase the productivity of corn, an important food crop after wheat and rice, by considerably decreasing the losses caused by insect pests and weeds.

 They said that farmers were well aware of this problem with no solution. They said Pakistan already had a quantum jump in corn production after introduction of hybrid varieties. They said that corn is sown on one million hectares in Pakistan including 445,000 hectares in Punjab and 550,000 hectares in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province. They said consumption of corn in Pakistan is approximately about 3.8 million tones and its increasing.

They said it is used by the poultry feed industry and its increased consumption can be gauged by the fact that in year 2002 there were only 64 mills in the country which rose to 120 by the year 2011. While wet milling industry was also showing growth i.e., a leading brand in year 2000 had one plant of 750 metric tons per day which in year 2012 reached to two plants of 750 metric tons per day each and one plant of 550 metric tons per day.

Monsanto Pakistan’s officials said that the future of agriculture in the world was dependent on biotechnology as green revolution had completed its life cycle and it was time for ‘gene revolution’.