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 Govt considers Monsanto’s offer to sell Bt cotton
ISLAMABAD: The government is considering a multinational company's offer of selling its Bt cotton by [the government] paying a seed subsidy of $247 million (Rs19 billion) annually, The News has learnt.

The company during the next 10 years of its technology transfer to local seed companies would pocket $1.2 billion and the federal government would pay the sum in the name of seed subsidy to the company, a senior official in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock told this correspondent after attending a high-level meeting on Bt cotton with Federal Food Minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal in the chair.

Monsanto, a US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology company, has offered its hi-tech Bollguard-II for enhancing cotton output and to meet local demand of the commodity. The company will get $20 per acre as the price of Bollguard-II for selling it to local farmers during the first five years of its operation and $10 per acre for the next five years, the official said.

Cotton is cultivated on nearly 3.2 million hectares. When multiplying it with 2.47 for turning into acres and then $20, it comes to $158 million annually. About this dolling out of billions of rupees in the name of technology transfer, a progressive farmer from Multan said that actually some of the high ups in the concerned departments are getting “rewarded” for this lucrative deal.

The company is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup”. Monsanto is also by far the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed, holding 70ñ100 per cent market share for various crops. Earlier, Punjab government was also interested in getting Bollguard-I technology, an obsolete technology, by paying Rs5 billion but it was blocked by the opposition from the federal government. The company also requested MINFAL to completely ban the existing Bt varieties in the local market, thus having a monopoly of this multinational company, another official familiar with the development told this correspondent.

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