KARACHI : At first two shipments were stopped at Port Qasim in Karachi On Oct 20 , 2022. According to Reports Of B – Trams (Pakistan’s First Biggest Business And Commodity News Media Co) The shipments contained GMO oilseeds worth some $100 million on board. And despite the very vocal protestations of the importers that had paid for the consignments, they stayed stuck at the port pending a single certification from the ministry of climate change.
In the month and a half since the initial arrival of the first consignment, a lot has happened. More shipments of the oilseeds have arrived at Port Qasim only to be piled up with the older containers. The ensuing battle over the fate of the oilseeds has seen many different twists and turns. From a war of words that almost came to blows at a meeting of a standing committee of the national assembly to threats and warnings of soaring prices of poultry and edible oil.
In The meeting of the standing committee on Wednesday started off on the wrong foot after the minister for food security, Tariq Bashir Cheema, walked into the meeting where oilseed importers were also present. The minister took exception to this, saying that representatives of soybean importers were not welcome at a meeting of a parliamentary committee.
During the meeting of the standing committee chaired by MNA Rao Ajmal, minister for food security Tariq Bashir Cheema engaged in verbal blows with oilseed importers. The minister said that the import of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is not allowed in Pakistan.
“You yourself leave the session,” the importers representative responded to the minister. “Nine vessels with GMO soybean cargo have been seized over illegal cargo. Customs Intelligence has ceased ships. We could not be part of any illegal practice,” Cheema stressed. “GMO soybean causes cancer thus its import has not been allowed,” he further said.
“It seems that the chairman of the committee has also become an advocate of soyabean importers,” he said. At this, committee chairman Rao Ajmal and Tariq Bashir exchanged harsh words over the comment.
“I am going to adjourn the committee session if Mr. Cheeman doesn’t take back his words,” he warned. “I am not advocating for anyone. The poultry industry has been on the verge of destruction, and 10 of my 12 farms have closed down yet I haven’t used my position to try and influence anything. Why would I be doing this now?”
“Only import of non-GMO soybean has been allowed. The US ambassador had also called on me for clearance of soyabean vessels,” the food minister retorted. “Give one-time clearance to soybean vessels,” he asked. “How can Pakistan allow a thing, which has been banned in the USA,” the minister said.
Later, speaking to Profit, Nawab Shehzad Ali Khan, representative of All Pakistan Solvent Extractors’ Association (APSEA), said no progress has been made regarding the clearance of the vessels. “Let’s see who wins,” he said, indicating the differences and fights between the food minister and importers.
The Committee condemned in the strongest words the misbehavior and abusive language used by Mr. Shahid Abdullah, Director Technical Department of Plant Protection (DPP) M/o National Food Security and Research during the meeting of the Committee. The Committee directed the Secretary, NFS&R to immediately take strong disciplinary action should be taken against him and a compliance report therefore be sent to the Committee at the earliest.
The question is, what in the world is happening? Profit looks at what the oilseed shipments are, why there is so much controversy over them, how bureaucratic red-taping has unnecessarily complicated the matter, and what the effects of this delay might be on the prices of essential food commodities.