Risks, Regulations and Genetic Engineering: A Way Forward for Commercialization of Gm Crops in Pakistan
Keywords:Biosafety, GM crops, environmental issues, biotechnology, gene flow
The rapid progress in biotechnology has significantly promoted the development and production of Genetically Modified (GM) plants. The extensive global cultivation of GM crops has generated greater benefits that might provide opportunities for solving problems related to food security, however, it has also raised considerable biosecurity concerns worldwide. Major concerns from GM crops are on natural environment, human and animal health and society. The potential environmental consequences due to transgene escape from a GM crop to its nonGM crop counterparts (crop-crop) and weedy or wild relative (crop-weed) via gene flow are the most debated biosafety issues internationally. GM crops are truly biological novelties, their release into the environment poses concerns about the unpredictable ecological and evolutionary responses that GM species themselves and the interacting biota may express in the medium and long term. One of the consequences of GM crop may be a generalized contamination of natural flora by GM traits and a degradation and erosion of the commonly owned genetic resources available today for agricultural development. However, these concerns can be resolved by developing efficient investigative techniques via modern biotechnology and genetic engineering. A systematic risk assessment will facilitate the appropriate prediction of potential environmental consequences caused by GM crops. Moreover, enforcement of National Biosafety Guidelines is highly recommended to avoid potential consequences.