VietNamNet Bridge – The Government wants to start cultivating new strains of genetically-modified (GM) crops next year with a target to expand the area under cultivation of GM crops to between 30% and 50% of the total farmland by 2020, said an agriculture researcher.
Pham Van Toan, head of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences under the agriculture ministry, told a conference last week in Hanoi that the target was aimed to increase the yield of grains to make animal feed for the husbandry industry.
The local livestock industry is facing tremendous pressure due to the lack of material for making animal feed, especially corn and soybeans, and the country has to import large volumes of corn and soybeans in recent years, Toan told the conference on the role and impact of the media on the development of GM crops in Vietnam.
Despite differing opinions around the use of GM crops for livestock and humans, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in August approved the use of four strains of GM corn to produce food for humans and feed for livestock.
Early this month, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment decided to issue the Certificate of Biosafety for the GM corn variety MON 89034 of Dekalb Vietnam Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of U.S.-based group Monsanto.
Such moves by the two ministries indicate the support for GM crops by central authorities.
The General Department of Customs reported that Vietnam imported 1.34 million tons of corn and 897,000 tons of soybean to produce animal feed in January-August. The country mainly imports corn from Brazil, Argentina, the U.S., India and Thailand.
In reality, the acreage of GM corn in the world is expanding fast and so far, there has been no evidence proving that GM food has negative impact on human health, said scientist Nguyen Lan Dung.
“We have to import biotech corn and soybean, so why don’t we grow them ourselves?” Dung asked at the meeting.
Minister of Agriculture Cao Duc Phat said previously that genetic modification technology is a major achievement of humankind which Vietnam should not miss, and that the agriculture ministry will continue to study and evaluate the cultivation of GM crops.
Tran Dinh Long, chairman of the Vietnam Seed Trade Association, told an earlier conference on restructuring agriculture that the GM corn strain approved by the ministries of agriculture and natural resources-environment can resist flies and herbicides.
However, those specialities of the corn variety cannot guarantee sufficient material supply for animal feed. Greater problems facing corn cultivation are drought and the lack of machines and equipment.