Last update 4/9/2012 10:57:22 AM (GMT+7)

Scientists recommend more trials of genetically modified feed corn
Agricultural experts have called for more trials for genetically modified (GM) animal feed corn in different locations.

This was positive results in two trials in four provinces just completed.

The experts were attending a two-day meeting held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to discuss results of the trials in the provinces of Vinh Phuc, Dak Lak, Son La and Vung Tau City.

Dr Le Huy Ham, director of the ministry's Agricultural Genetics Institute, said GM corn with high worm resistance had reached productivity 30-40 per cent higher than unmodified corn grown in the same conditions.

He said the quality of the GM corn was much better.

Dr Pham Thi Lien, of the institute, said the increased productivity of GM corn proved they did not turn into wild grass or cause any agricultural epidemics or any harm to biodiversity or the ecosystem.

Participants in the trials did not show adverse health symptoms, she said.

However, many experts at the meeting doubted that two trials were adequate. They wondered if it was wise to rush into commercial production.

Tran Duy Qui, former director of the institute, said the results of the trial crops did not tell much, especially in assessing their effects on the environment and ecosystem.

He suggested six more multi-location field trials.

Professor Tran Dinh Long, chairman of Viet Nam Seed Association, agreed more trials were needed for a comprehensive and careful assessment of potential risks in comparison with the benefits.

He said the results of the recent trials should serve as a base for future trials.

Nguyen Dong Quang, deputy head of the ministry's plant protection department, said GM corn crops would play an important role in the country's food supply because 1.6 million tonnes of corn were imported for animal feed each year.

The cost of this imported corn had driven prices of Viet Nam's animal feed 10-15 per cent higher than neighbouring countries such as Thailand and China.

Farmers also incurred the cost of pest control measures for local corn which had increased its price, he said.

Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong said the ministry would continue to take advice to ensure safety before making any decision related to growing GM corn crops commercially.