LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab irrigation and agriculture departments on a petition challenging the Pakistan Amended Seed Act, 2015 for “being in violation of farmers’ fundamental rights and passed at the behest of US multinational seed manufacturing companies”. The chief justice sought replies from both the departments till January 17, 2017. Petitioner lawyer Sheraz Zaka submitted that under the impugned law, farmers would be fined and imprisoned for preserving, selling and exchanging seeds, a tradition that has been in vogue for centuries. He submitted that it would badly affect local farmers, who were procuring and using seeds. He said that the impugned law had made it mandatory for farmers to buy seeds from a licensed company or its agent and that they had to do so every time they cultivate a new crop. He alleged that this restriction would create a monopoly of companies and make farmers dependent on multinational corporations. He said that it was injustice to millions of small and landless farmers whose food insecurity would be aggravated by this law. He said that conditions required under the impugned act would lead to an increase in prices of agricultural products and a food security threat in future is likely to happen. He contended that the experience of growing genetically modified (GM) crops, like Bt cotton, had been disastrous in the country. He said that many European countries had already banned genetically modified crops because of their severe adverse impact on environment and Pakistan should also do the same. He said the law drew severe criticism earlier when it was presented before the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Punjab, but even then the National Assembly passed it. He requested the court to set aside the amended Seed Act of 2015 for being unconstitutional.