ISLAMABAD: The APSEA (All Pakistan Solvent Extractors’ Association) patron-in-chief, Shehzad Ali Khan while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security meeting, said that they are importing oil seed and its powder used in poultry feed.
“We are importing soyabean seeds since 2015,” he said, adding “Our nine shipments of soyabean seeds have been seized by customs authorities since October 20 at Port Qasim, Karachi. If the shipment of soyabean seeds was not allowed it would badly affect the poultry industry in the country.”**
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Tariq Bashir Cheema said that the import of GMO soyabean is banned in Pakistan. Customs authorities have seized nine shipments of GMO soyabean seeds that were illegally imported, he said. “GMO soyabean causes cancer and we will not allow its import”, he said.
He said that the law only allows the import of non-GMO soyabean. The US ambassador had also called on me for clearance of soyabean vessels, he claimed. “Give one-time clearance to soyabean vessels and then impose a ban, the US ambassador told me,” he said. “How can Pakistan allow a thing, which has been banned in the USA,” the minister said.
The minister said that the same issue was also discussed during the federal cabinet meeting and the Prime Minister has constituted a committee to resolve the matter. He told the chairman: “you included this matter in the agenda meeting without taking me into confidence. I do not understand when the import of a commodity has been banned then why you become a lawyer of importer.”
The committee chairman, Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan has also been annoyed over the remarks of the minister and said that he is not acting as a counsel for anyone but he is the lawyer for the farmer community. “I am going to adjourn the committee meeting if the minister did not take back his words,” Ajmal warned.
“He does not own any solvent company or feeds mill and owns poultry farms,” he said, adding that if the Prime Minister has constituted another committee for this purpose then what will be the objectives of the standing committee?
According to the brief submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on August 20, the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation - Customs, Regional Office, Karachi has taken cognisance of this US soyabean cargo u/s 16 of Customs Act, 1969 (IV of 1969) read with section 4 of Pakistan Plant Quarantine Act, 1976 by receiving credible information that a vessel, namely MV YASA FORTUNE bearing IGM No PQIB-0815-18102020 carrying Living Modified Organisms (LMO) or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) soyabean has been berthed at Port Qasim, Karachi, and advised Department of Plant Protection (DPP) that a release order may not be issued without carrying out proper testing in relation to the above-mentioned aspects and under intimation to their department.
Accordingly, DPP asked the importers to arrange sampling for GMO testing of soyabean because the importers have not disclosed in their import permit application that US soyabean is genetically modified nor provided a valid license from Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) to this effect if goods are genetically modified. So far, the importers have not arranged sampling and testing of goods for GMO confirmation. Thus, DPP has informed the office of the Directorate General of Intelligence & Investigation- Customs, Regional Office, Karachi that the importers are not arranging sampling for GMO testing of soyabean and as they have information about this soyabean cargo being GM material, so they should investigate the cargo in this regard and accordingly convey their findings and further advice to DPP to decide bio-security clearance and release order of this consignment.
The meeting was also attended by MNAs, Riazul Haq, Ahmad Raza Maneka, Chaudhry Faqir Ahmed, Syed Javed Ali Shah Jillani, Kamal Ud-din, and senior officials.
The APSEA patron-in-chief lost his cool during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security, chaired by Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan after the minister accused him of being “phoney”, and retorted: “my reputation is far better than yours”.
In the same breath, he held the minister and his ministry responsible for the illegal trade, adding “you and your ministry are hand in glove in what is taking place right under your nose”.
The minister requested the chair to expel him from the meeting.
However, Khan also stuck to his guns and kept shouting: “you better leave,” which infuriated the minister who rose up from his chair with a view to ‘settling’ score with Khan.
Khan also rose up from his seat in a retaliatory mood. Later, the chair pacified frayed tempers before adjourning the meeting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022