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[genet-news] BUSINESS & POLICY: Monsanto-Pakistan accord on Bt cotton: Businessmen warn Punjab government



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   ACCORD ON BT COTTON: BUSINESSMEN WARN PUNJAB GOVT

SOURCE:  The Dawn, Pakistan

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://public.dawn.com/2010/11/03/accord-on-bt-cotton-businessmen-warn-punjab-govt.html

DATE:    03.11.2010

SUMMARY: "Pakistan?s businessmen have warned the Punjab government against its plans to sign an agreement with a United States company for hybrid Bt Cotton seed, saying it would spell a disaster for national seed companies, besides causing huge financial burden on public exchequer. ?The country?s future lies in biotechnology as long as it helps farmers and brings in investments. But the grant of exclusive rights to any company that doesn?t meet the criteria amounts to waste of precious resources."

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ACCORD ON BT COTTON: BUSINESSMEN WARN PUNJAB GOVT

LAHORE, Nov 2: Pakistan`s businessmen have warned the Punjab government against its plans to sign an agreement with a United States company for hybrid Bt Cotton seed, saying it would spell a disaster for national seed companies, besides causing huge financial burden on public exchequer.

?The country`s future lies in biotechnology as long as it helps farmers and brings in investments. But the grant of exclusive rights to any company that doesn`t meet the criteria amounts to waste of precious resources. We will resist such an action at all costs,? Shahzad Ali Malik, Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) chairman and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president said on Tuesday.

He said the agreement with Monsanto, the American company, without large-scale field trials of local cotton seed varieties, yield-increase commitments and solution to Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) would hurt the interests of the farming community.

?Monsanto is trying to get compensation for Bollgard-II seed technology despite the fact that its performance in the field trials in local conditions is yet to be proved,? he said.

Malik said the American company should be facilitated in Pakistan but royalty or compensatory payments for Monsanto or any other company should not be approved by the government as this would discourage competition in the local market.

He said Monsanto must carry out large-scale trials first with Bollgard-II in local varieties to demonstrate its effectiveness against CLCV and help in getting clarity if any yield increase was taking place in the local climatic condition. ?Without yield increase there is no point in signing the agreement with Monsanto.?

He said a German company was providing the same technology (Bollgard II) without asking for any royalty and compensatory amount. ?So is the case with the China`s top biotechnology provider, which has the patent rights to fusion gene and is prepared to provide the same to Pakistan without royalty. Why should we then pay Monsanto for the same technology when we can get it for free??

He pointed out that Monsanto was asking the government to sign as a guarantor and pay compensatory amount of $7-14 per acre for any unauthorised planting of Bt cotton seed. ?Virtually the company is asking the government to ensure profits and market share for itself.?

Malik said the main problems of Pakistani cotton crop were low yield and CLCV that results in a loss of 3-4 million bales every year.

He said Monsanto`s field trials were a failure and did not show resistance to CLCV. ?The trials were of imported Indian hybrid cotton seed and not local varieties so there is no scientific way of gauging how local varieties would perform. Indian cotton area and production has increased but we have to understand its factors.

In India, bollworms are a big issue of cotton crop and Bt technology is effective against it. In Pakistan, CLCV is major issue and Bt technology has no control over it.? He called for the approval of the Seed Act Amendment & Plant Breeders Rights by the Parliament so that intellectual property rights were protected and investors got confidence. ?This year eight local Bt cotton varieties (BG I) and one hybrid containing Chinese fusion gene were approved by the Punjab government and agreement with Monsanto will destroy local seed companies selling the Bt Cotton seed. The agreement should be signed after approval of assembly because royalty payment is a controversial issue and should not be agreed without approval of public representatives.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   BT COTTONSEED: GOVERNMENT TO SIGN ACCORD WITH US COMPANY BY DECEMBER END

SOURCE:  Business Redorder, Pakistan

AUTHOR:  Abdul Rasheed Azad

URL:     http://www.brecorder.com/news/cotton-and-textiles/pakistan/1121166:bt-cottonseed-government-to-sign-accord-with-us-company-by-december-end.html

DATE:    05.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The government will sign an agreement with American based seed producing company Monsanto by the end of December, 2010, Business Recorder has learnt. The Ministry for Food and Agriculture and the American seed company Monsanto had singed a Memorandum of Understanding on April 10, 2010 for providing Bt Cottonseed to Pakistan. In this connection, a high level delegation of Monsanto called on Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal here on Thursday. "

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BT COTTONSEED: GOVERNMENT TO SIGN ACCORD WITH US COMPANY BY DECEMBER END

ISLAMABAD  (November 05, 2010) : The government will sign an agreement with American based seed producing company Monsanto by the end of December, 2010, Business Recorder has learnt. The Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MinFa) and the American seed company Monsanto had singed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on April 10, 2010 for providing Bt Cottonseed to Pakistan.

In this connection, a high level delegation of Monsanto called on Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal here on Thursday. The visiting delegation requested the federal government to direct environment ministry to give it Bio-safety clearance immediately. The delegation also requested the government to provide it guarantee that Punjab government would accept the agreement as so far Punjab government is not ready to sign agreement with Monsanto.

The Monsanto delegation was led by Dr Ty Vaughn; Director of the Global Cotton and Speciality Technology. Other members of the delegation were, Rick Gaudet, international cotton product lead, John Winski, Monsanto Assistant General Counsel, Paul Twine, business development lead Asia and Pacific, and Aamir Mirza, country head also attended the meeting.

Nazar Muhammad Gondal said that every thing must be done within the framework of the MoU. He said that Pakistan's 80 percent land was irrigated in comparison to India's 30 percent irrigated land. He said that Pakistan offers excellent business opportunities for Monsanto and prefers the seed quality of the company because of its better technology, he added. The agreement would revolutionise the seed sector of the country and significantly enhance the cotton production.

"The deal will increase our cotton production to fill the gap between supply and demand and meet our growing demands as Pakistan's 60 percent exports are cotton related. Progress in cotton means growth in our exports", the minister maintained. Gondal further said that few more issues need to be addressed through negotiations, adding that Bollgard-II Cottonseed will be available to Pakistani farmers during next cotton season.

For the past several years, Pakistan has been a net importer in excess of 2 million bales due to an acute shortage in cotton production and this year Pakistani textile industry would be compelled to import over 4 million bales of raw cotton as the recent flood destroyed cotton crop across the country.

Biotechnology is one tool that can help increase the productivity of Pakistan agriculture. Worl-dwide, millions of farmers in over 20 countries are already reaping the benefits of Agri biotechnology, Dr Ty Vaughn said. Monsanto plans to introduce Bollgard-II cotton technology, which is undoubtedly the most extensively studied cotton technology globally. The rigorous scientific studies conducted demonstrate that Bollgard and its products are safe for the environment, human beings, animals and agriculture, Dr Ty Vaughn said.

He said, "We believe that Bt cotton technology will bring significant benefits for the Pakistani cotton farmers in terms of contributing towards increasing yields and farm income." He said that it would bring positive changes in the agriculture sector; especially it will improve cotton crop production, besides protecting the crop from various diseases.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   AGREEMENT ON BT COTTON WILL SPELL DISASTER FOR SEED INDUSTRY

SOURCE:  Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan (LHCI)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://lcci.com.pk/press_releasases4.php

DATE:    02.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The LCCI President said that the Agreement with Monsanto without large-scale field trials of local cotton seed varieties, yield-increase commitment and no solution to Cotton Leaf Curl virus will not only hurt the interests of the farming community but it would also be useless. Monsanto is trying to get compensation for Bollgard-II seed technology despite the fact that its performance in field trials in local conditions is yet to be proved."

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AGREEMENT ON BT COTTON WILL SPELL DISASTER FOR SEED INDUSTRY

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tuesday warned the Punjab government that its plan to sign an agreement with a US company for hybrid Bt Cotton seed will spell disaster for national seed companies besides causing huge financial burden on public exchequer. ?There is no second opinion about it that country?s future lies in Biotechnology as long as it helps Pakistani farmers and brings in investments but granting exclusive rights to any company that has not passed all the required tests and trials means wastage of precious resources that would be resisted at all costs.? These views were expressed by the LCCI President and Chairman Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) Shahzad Ali Malik while addressing the Executive Committee of SAP here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The LCCI President said that the Agreement with Monsanto without large-scale field trials of local cotton seed varieties, yield-increase commitment and no solution to Cotton Leaf Curl virus
  (CLCuV) will not only hurt the interests of the farming community but it would also be useless. Monsanto is trying to get compensation for Bollgard-II seed technology despite the fact that its performance in field trials in local conditions is yet to be proved. Shahzad Ali Malik said that Monsanto should be facilitated in Pakistan but royalty or compensatory payments for Monsanto or any other company should not be approved by the Government as this will not only discourage competition in the local market but will also kill the local seed industry which will only become licensees of Monsanto creating monopoly. The LCCI President said that Monsanto must carry-out large-scale trials first with Bollgard-II in local varieties to demonstrate its effectiveness against Cotton Leaf Curl virus and help in getting clarity if any yield increase is taking place in our local climatic condition. Without yield increase there is no point in signing the agreement with Monsanto. The LCCI Pres
 ident informed the Seed Association that the German multinational BAYER is providing the same technology (Bollgard II) without asking for any royalty and compensatory amount. So is the case with Biocentury Transgene, China?s #1 biotechnology provider, which has the patent rights to fusion gene and is prepared to provide the same to Pakistan without royalty. Why should we then pay Monsanto for the same technology when we can get it for next to nothing? It was pointed out that Monsanto is asking the Government to sign as a guarantor and pay compensatory amount of 7-14 U.S dollars per acre for any unauthorized planting of Bt cotton seed. Virtually the company is asking the government to ensure profits and market share for itself. Shahzad Ali Malik said that the main problems of Pakistani Cotton crop are low yield and Cotton Leaf Curl virus (CLCuV) that results in 3-4 million bales loss every cotton season. He said that Monsanto?s confined filed trials in Punjab and Sindh during
  2010 have not been a success & failed to show resistance to CLCuV. The trials were of imported Indian hybrid cotton seed and not local varieties so there is no scientific way of gauging how would local varieties perform. Indian cotton area and production has increased but we have to understand its factors that in India Bollworms are a big issue of cotton crop and Bt technology is effective against it. In Pakistan instead of Bollworms, CLCuV is major issue and Bt technology has no control over it. The LCCI President said that Indian example is not relevant as India is 75% non-irrigated cotton while Pakistan grows cotton on irrigated land and depends on hybrid seeds and their yields are lower than current Pakistani varieties even after Bt cotton technology introduction in India. The LCCI President suggested that way forward is that Seed Act Amendment & Plant Breeders Rights should be approved by the Parliament so that IPRs (intellectual property rights) are protected and inve
 stors both local and multinationals get confidence. This year eight local Bt cotton varieties (BG I) and one hybrid containing Chinese fusion gene were approved by Punjab government and agreement with Monsanto will destroy local seed companies selling the Bt Cotton seed. The agreement should be signed after approval of Provincial or National Assembly because royalty payment is a controversial issue and should not be agreed without approval of public representatives. Pakistan?s position is strong to negotiate with Monsanto as it already has entered into cotton growing countries and Pakistan is the only market left. It is quite understandable that the American company was in a hurry to get the things done because the Bt Cotton variety containing Chinese fusion gene as mentioned above has already been approved by the Government of Punjab and is poised to be commercialized next year. It is pertinent to mention here that on MAY 26, 2008, Monsanto wrote a letter to Punjab Governme
 nt accepting that it has no Patent for Bollagrd I in Pakistan which is CRY1AC single gene and so no claims for royalty. Now it is trying to get compensation for Bollgard-II seed technology despite the fact that its performance in field trials under Pakistan's conditions have yet to be proved.




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