29 September 2023
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ISLAMABAD: A quarrel broke out between federal minister Tariq Bashir Cheema and importers of soybean during a meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Food Security, ARY News reported on Wednesday.

Sources at the meeting told ARY News that participants of the meeting – held under the chairmanship of Chairman Rao Ajmal – were discussing the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) soybeans.

During the meeting, federal minister Tariq Bashir Cheema told the representatives that GMO soybeans were not allowed to be imported into Pakistan. “Such soybeans were causing cancers,” he noted, adding that the government won’t allow any wrongdoings.

“Almost nine ships of illegal GMO soybeans were seized by the customs intelligence,” he noted, adding that the government won’t become party in any wrongdoings. He maintained that the law only allows import of non-GMO soybeans.

Tariq Bashir Cheema revealed that US ambassador also met him in this regard, and sought clearance of GMO soybeans’ shipments. He also lambasted the committee chairman Rao Ajmal for ‘advocating’ the soybean importers.

On these remarks, a heated verbal argument ensued between the two. Rao Ajmal asked the federal minister to take back his words or he would end the committee’s meeting.

“The poultry industry has reached the brink of collapse,” Rao said, adding that his own 10 out of 12 farms were shut down.

Meanwhile, Tariq Bashir Cheema demanded a representative of soybean importers to leave the meeting, in response to which the representative asked the federal minister to leave the committee.

Amid the quarrel, the meeting of the committee was adjourned for an indefinite period.

Abdul Gh Lone