Genetically Modified Food: LHC moved against multinationals’ ‘hegemony’


LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) the other day heard a petition filed by Non-Governmental Oganisation (NGO) Human Voice regarding the impugned Plant Breeders Rights Act 2016 passed by the National Assembly (NA) and directed Punjab government to produce a resolution passed by Punjab Assembly in this regard.

The petition was heard by Justice Ali Akbar in which the counsel for the petitioner Sheraz Zaka argued that the impugned law relates to agriculture which is a provincial subject and not a federal subject.

He said that even under the Article 144 of the Constitution in which the federal parliament may pass a law on subjects not contained in the Federal Legislative list’s fourth schedule, a resolution passed by at least one provincial assembly giving such power to the federal parliament is required for the law to become valid.

Zaka said that since no province has passed such a resolution so far, nor was the law approved by the federal cabinet, and therefore the law is ultra vires.

It was further contended that disputed Act has a wide range of adverse effects on the environment since it was passed to promote genetically modified seeds which would reduce the presence of organic food in the market.

The petitioner maintained that the law has been passed to facilitate the multinational corporations after which the farmers would be forced to purchase expensive seeds from them, adding that it deprives the local farmers from a fair competition in the market making food expensive in the upcoming years.

It was also said that Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity 1993, and the impugned law goes against the commitments that Pakistan has made with the global community.

Concerns regarding a possible food security crisis were expressed before the LHC in which it was said that such a reliance on the multinational corporations is not in the national interest since it also puts the future of farmers at stake.

Zaka, while talking to Pakistan Today, said that due to similar laws, farmers from Indian’s province Andrapardesh had committed suicide since they could not afford to purchase expensive seeds from the market.

He said that such laws affect the environment and biodiversity, and awareness needs to be spread among the people in this regard.

After listening to both the sides, the LHC adjourned the hearing till June 8 while directing the Punjab government to come up with the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly.