When did GMO food appear on the Vietnamese dining table?
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam permitted the growing of GMO (genetically modified organisms) in the country in 2015, but GMO food began penetrating the domestic market a long time before.


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In 2010, MARD began testing seven GMO maize varieties



In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) begin testing seven GMO maize varieties, including three from Sygenta, three from Mosanto and one from Pioneer Hibred Vietnam.

By March 2015, three GMO maize varieties had been seeded in four northern and four southern provinces. Harvested products have been widely used in Vietnam. By August 2016, MARD had licensed 21 GMO maize and soybean varieties to be grown in the country.

By March 2015, three GMO maize varieties had been seeded in four northern and four southern provinces. Harvested products have been widely used in Vietnam. By August 2016, MARD had licensed 21 GMO maize and soybean varieties to be grown in the country.

As such, Vietnam became the 29th country in the world growing GMO insect- resistant maize on a large scale. Scientists estimate that the total GMO growing area would amount to 30-50 percent of the area of newly cultivated maize, cotton and soybean.

Under the legal documents released by appropriate agencies, since January 2016, GMO food products must be labelled with ‘bien doi gen’ (GMO) in Vietnamese language. 

GMO food products subject to the regulation are products with at least one element which has materials accounting for more than 5 percent of total materials.

However, the shortcoming of the regulation is that it can be applied only to packed products such as foreign fruits and vegetables. This means that consumers still need to be cautious when buying fresh, dry and frozen food products, and animal feed.

A recent survey found that GMO products are available at nearly all supermarkets and traditional markets in HCMC. The surveyors said that 111 out of 323 food samples including corn, soybeans, potatoes, rice, tomatoes and peas, randomly selected at 17 traditional markets and supermarkets in the city, were GMOs.

These included American corn, baby corn, canned corn, corn starch and corn seed. 

The survey also found that distributors and the markets’ management board did not have a clear understanding about GMO food.

Vietnamese in general are not knowledgable about GMO, while scientists are divided about GMO’s impacts on human health. 

At a recent event organized by the US Embassy in Vietnam, Dr Le Huy Ham, former director of the Institute of Agricultural Genetics, affirmed that there has been no scientific research which proves that GMO plants harm human health.

Dang Mai Huong, a civil servant in Hanoi, admitted that she cannot tell the difference between GMO and GMO-free products.

“I think the fruits which are too big or abnormally fresh are GMOs and I won’t pick such products,” she said. 


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Thanh Lich

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