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GMO products could help Viet Nam reduce animal feed material import

Update: October, 22/2015 - 15:24
Two fields of corn in Son La Province. The field on the left with normal breed is seen to have more weed than the field on the right with GMO breed. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) would be a solution to problems that Viet Nam is facing in agricultural production, an expert said.

Le Huy Ham, director of the Agricultural Genetics Institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at a conference on food biotechnology held last week by the Centre for Viet Nam Science and Technology Internationalisation Promotion under the Ministry of Science and Technology that GM products would partly reduce the dependence on imported animal feed materials such as soybean and maize.

GMOs would improve plant productivity and insect resilience, he said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) showed that Viet Nam had 1.2 million ha of maize and produced 5.6 million tonnes of maize last year. However, the country had to import 4.79 million tonnes.

As many as 4.67 million tonnes of maize have been imported in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 49 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Ham said the mass cultivation of genetically modified maize will help increase productivity and reduce the quantity of imported maize.

While there is conflicting information about the effects of genetically modified (GM) products on human and animal health, experts at the conference said no scientific evidence associated genetically modified organisms (GMO) with higher risks than conventional crops.

It took Viet Nam 10 years to complete the legal framework to put GM crops into practice, Ham said.

The country only allowed the application of GMOs after it was approved in at least five developed countries, he said.

Currently, the MARD allow the application of biotechnology for three kinds of plants which Viet Nam has to import large quantities of, namely maize, cotton and soybean.

Alan McHughen, biotechnology specialist and Genetics at the University of California, Riverside said GM foods were safe because they were proved safe by more than 1,700 scientific researches.

Results from studies on animals fed with GM plants originated animal feed also showed that there was no harmful effect on their health and reproduction.

Andrew P Benson, from the International Food Information Council Foundation said it's necessary to improve the effectiveness of public media on GMO to avoid any misunderstandings as well as to restore the trust of consumers. — VNS

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