Growing GM corn should rest with farmers

VietNamNet Bridge – The Government has approved the mass farming of genetically modified (GM) corn but it is farmers who should decide whether to plant such corn or not, heard a seminar in HCMC last week.

GM corn, borer-resistant corn, genetically modified tomato, bio-safety certificates

A farmer in Dong Nai Province visits a genetically modified corn farm – Photo: Ngoc Hung

Speaking at the seminar held by the Peace and Development Foundation of HCMC and Tri Viet Center for Social and Educational Research, Associate Professor Ngo Thi Xuyen said Vietnam had grown borer-resistant corn varieties but only localities attacked by borers should grow GM corn to protect their crop from the insect.

“I personally think that farmers themselves should choose corn varieties as this directly affects their incomes,” said Xuyen, who worked with foreign scientists to create a genetically modified tomato variety.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has recognized the testing results of five genetically modified corn varieties, namely BT11, GA21, MON98034, NK603 and TC1507, before presenting them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for issuing bio-safety certificates.

Corn varieties of Dekald and Syngenta have been approved for mass cultivation in Vietnam from March 18 this year.

The agriculture minister advocates genetically modified corn production to cut down on corn imports.

Data of the agriculture ministry, Vietnam imported 3.75 million tons of corn worth US$856 million in January-July, up nearly 42% in volume and 25% in value against last year’s same period. Corn was mainly imported from Latin American countries like Brazil (52.5%) and Argentina (41.4%), the two countries currently planting genetically modified corn.

Experts at the seminar called for Vietnam to acquire technology of creating genetically modified corn varieties to avoid heavy reliance on foreign suppliers.

In reply to this concern, Xuyen said Vietnam was technically capable of creating genetically modified varieties but finance is one of the problems for Vietnam.

According to Bui Chi Buu, former head of the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Vietnam, said foreign countries should spend around US$130 million creating a genetically modified variety. This is the main reason why Vietnam is unable to produce such GM varieties.

GM corn, borer-resistant corn, genetically modified tomato, bio-safety certificates