October 16, 2014 – BR Report –
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Food, Security and Research Wednesday approved Seed Amendments Bill 2014 to improve the existing law, enabling it to meet the requirements of modern seed industry. The committee that met with Malik Shakir Bashir Awan in the chair here decided to increase the proposed penalty to Rs 200,000 on sale of sub-standard seed on first offence and the amount would go up to Rs 600,000 on the second offence.
Secretary Ministry of National Food Seerat Asghar told the meeting that the existing Seed Act 1976 does not commensurate with the requirements of modern seed industry. Thus there was a need to make some amendments to the law to make it suitable for the modern industry. Secretary Ministry of National Food, Security and Research Seerat Asghar told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee that the Bill has been pending since 2007. Lately, it was introduced in the National Assembly on August 8, 2014 after the approval of the Federal Cabinet on May 15, 2014. Subsequently, it was referred to the National Assembly Standing Committee on NFS&R.
The meeting was further informed that the Bill clearly delineates the role of private sector (seed companies, dealers, processing units and fruit plant nurseries) and allows the private sector to produce basic seed for its multiplication and certification. Additionally, it allows the private sector to establish accredited seed testing laboratories. The bill authorises the registration of Genetically Modified crop varieties (GM) subject to law.
The meeting was informed that Seed Act, 1976 was enacted by the Parliament to control and regulate the quality of seeds of various varieties of crops. The Act envisages public sector as the sole player in seed development and registration process with no role assigned to the private sector. The Seed Act 1976 does not fulfil the requirements of “Modern Seed Industry”. Over the years, the capacity of the public sector has deteriorated and private sector is playing stronger and more vibrant role in the development of seed industry, the world over.
The new innovations in hybrid technology and Genetically Modified crops, have transformed the seed industry. The new draft “Seed Amendment Bill, 2014” has been drafted considering the emerging realities of the modern times and will provide level playing field to both, public as well as the private sector, added secretary NFS&R.