HA NOI (VNS) — Bio-technology is an important component of sustainable agriculture development in Viet Nam, Dr. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Dean of the Bio-technology of the Ha Noi Agriculture University No.1 told a workshop held on Thursday in the capital city.
Thao said 29 countries have planted bio-tech crops on 160 million hectares of land. These crops have greatly contributed to food security, sustainability and climate change by increasing crop production value to US$ 78.4 billion; providing a better environment as less pesticide is used; conserving biodiversity and reducing CO2 emissions.
Nguyen Thanh Thuy, deputy director of the Agriculture Genetics Institute, said 2007 was the first time Viet Nam started field trials of genetically modified corns (Bt corn).
Since then several Bt corn tests have been conducted in the provinces of Vinh Phuc (in the north), Son La (the northern mountainous province), Dak Lak (in the Central Highlands) and Vung Tau City (in the south).
Results from the four trials show an increase in productivity by as much as 30 to 40 per cent in comparison with conventional corn grown in the same condition.
"It was observed that the new corn quality is much better, and farmers and other personnel involved in the trial did not show any adverse health symptoms," Thuy said.
Professor Vo Tong Xuan, a member of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA), expressed his concern about the increase in the country's food demand.
"It is estimated that by 2020, Viet Nam will need about 50 million tonnes of cereal. By 2050, the figure will jump to 80 million, and all the while the cultivated land is being eaten up by urban and industrial development," Xuan said.
Dr Leo Gonzales, a senior researcher from the Philippines, said results after ten years of Bt corn commercialisation in the Philippines indicated positive socio-economic impacts.
"Bt corn seed users were superior to ordinary hybrids ones in terms of yield, farm production cost, farm income, economic carrying capacities, global cost competitiveness and returned on investment by up to 42 per cent," he said.
In the National Food Security Plan 2020, the Vietnamese government stresses the need to strengthen technology research and application, reduce post harvest losses and renovate land policy as well as to enhance environmental protection standards.
It is the inevitable trend of the global agriculture industry to ensure a scientifically proven food supply with no potential health risks. — VNS