Ecological disaster

Sir: Introduction of GMO/BT varieties of maize is on the cards to enhance its production but this intervention may become counterproductive. Maize is attacked by a major pest, maize stem borer all over the country but its outbreak never happens as the borer is a prey to a very effective parasite named Apanteles flavipes, giving more than 80 percent mortality of the borer and keeps borer under control. The author has published this research in many Pakistani, European and American journals. Convinced with the effectiveness of the usefulness of the parasite, Apanteles flavipes, many countries (including USA, African and Caribbean countries) have gotten this parasite from Pakistan to control borers attacking maize and sugarcane and excellent results have been reported.

The disappearance of borer from the maize ecosystem will also eliminate the parasite and disturb the entire ecosystem. The maize borer also attacks on sorghum, sugarcane, pearl millet and many other wild plants. Thus the attack of borer will increase on sugarcane, sorghum and other similar crops and more losses would occur compared with any anticipated economic gain. However, it will scale up the business of GMO seeds and pesticides by the multinational companies and their partners in Pakistan.

In addition to this ecological disaster, Pakistan will also lose its maize products exports to European countries and Russia as they do not allow import of GMO/BT maize in their countries.

According to GMWatch (an international GMO/BT watchdog), farmers in France and Germany were digging up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were found in seeds sold by a company. Is Pakistan ready to face similar challenge? Do the farmers have knowledge and money to tackle this horrific technological intervention?

DR CHAUDHRY INAYATULLAH

Islamabad

Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.