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Should GMOs be allowed into Nepal? The recurring debate is unlikely to settle soon

In 2020, Nepal imported genetically modified soya beans meal worth almost $27 million from the US. This was quite a shock as the Supreme Court, in 2014, had put a ban on the import of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until the government came up with a policy regarding its importation.

Despite that, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been coming to Nepal with ease. In the past five years, Nepal has imported over 2,500 metric tons of canola used to produce mustard oil and over 6,000 metric tons of corn, mostly used as fodder for cattle.

While the jury is still out on whether GMOs are good or bad, the importation of these products in Nepal despite the ban by the Supreme Court has been a cause for concern. To curb this, in August, the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development sent letters to all importers to provide a non-GMO certificate while applying for an import permit. But, due to ‘external pressure’, it did not take long for the ban on canola, soya bean and corn to be lifted, making it legal for it to come into Nepal as the centre issued another notice in September.

All these developments have sparked another round of debate on whether Nepal should allow GMOs, but it is unlikely to settle this time also, as experts suggest the country lacks control and research infrastructure to decide their usability and control bad practices.

Is the lifting ban good?

Scientists believe that GMOs are the future but they say that its due research must be conducted in Nepal. Photo: Wikkimeida Commons

Mahesh Chandra Acharya, a senior officer at the Plant Quarantin

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