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Viet Nam set to grow GM crops

Update: February, 05/2015 - 09:45
The application of GM maize aims to help Viet Nam reduce its dependence on animal feed imports. The MARD has set a goal of producing 8.5 million tonnes of maize a year, including traditional maize, to use as animal feed. — Photo vietnamnet

HA NOI (VNS) — Genetically modified crops will be commercially produced in Viet Nam this year, Institute of Agriculture Genetics director Le Huy Ham told a workshop on Tuesday in Ha Noi.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Institute of Agriculture Genetics (IGS) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agro-biotech Application (ISAAA).

ISAAA founder Clive James said Viet Nam was the 29th country to grow biotech crops.

"There were 80 per cent more hectares of biotech crops grown in 2014 than the land mass of China. The total has increased more than 100-fold since the first planting of biotech crops," James said.

He said biotech crops had greatly contributed to sustainable development and food security as well as adaptation to climate change. Biotech crops increased production value to $133 billion from 1996-2013 and decreased pesticide use, saving approximately 500 million kg of active ingredients from 1996-2012. In 2013 alone, crop planting lowered carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing 12.4 million cars from the road for one year. During the 1995-2014 period, GM technology reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 per cent, increased crop yields by 22 per cent and increased farmer profits by 68 per cent.

In Viet Nam, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) issued the first licence for conducting a field trial of GM maize in 2010. In 2014, the MARD officially allowed GM maize to be used as animal feed in Viet Nam. Following that event, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment granted approval to three GM maize varieties, a key legal development for Viet Nam to commercialise biotech crops this year.

The application of GM maize aims to help Viet Nam reduce its dependence on animal feed imports. The MARD has set a goal of producing 8.5 million tonnes of maize a year, including traditional maize, to use as animal feed.

Up to 70 per cent of ingredients used to produce animal feed are imported, according to the MARD. In 2014 alone, Viet Nam spent more than $4 billion to import animal feed ingredients, of which maize accounted for about $1.2 billion. — VNS

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