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Vietnam Vietnam to allow genetically
modified crops to reduce imports 03-August-2008 Thanh Nien Daily
Vietnam is aiming for “massive
production” of genetically modified (GM) crops to reduce imports
of soybeans, corn and cotton.
Development of GM crops may reduce the nation’s dependence
on imports, helping to narrow the trade deficit and calm
concerns about economic stability.
Increases in food prices have spurred inflation of 27 percent,
the fastest since at least 1992.
“Vietnam plans to allow massive production of GM crops
after 2010,” Pham Van Toan, Hanoi-based head of the general
office at the agriculture ministry’s Science and Technology
The country approved in 2005 the program to cut agricultural
imports, he said.
The agricultural attaché’s office at the US embassy in
Hanoi said in a report the authorities have completed a
draft of a law that will allow such crops.
A National Assembly session in October is expected to approve
the law, Vietnam News Agency reported.
Bui Thi Huong, an agricultural specialist at the embassy,
said in the report: “Vietnam remains keen to produce genetically
modified crops, particularly soybeans, corn and cotton,
to reduce the dependence on import of these key commodities.”
Vietnam was Asia’s biggest importer of soybean meal, which
is used primarily for animal feed, along with Indonesia
It shipped in 2.4 million tons, according to data from
the Foreign Agricultural Service.
Vietnam also imported 750,000 tons of corn, the FAS said.
Dependence on imports
The country is dependent on imports of soybeans, corn and
cotton for its “large feed and textile industries,” Huong
Cotton imports rose 26 percent to 170,000 tons in the seven
months through July, according to the General Statistics
Cotton is used by the garment industry to manufacture clothes,
the country’s second-biggest export after crude oil.
The trade shortfall widened in the seven months through
July to US$15 billion, or more than in all of 2007.
The deficit in the same period last year was $6.3 billion.
Imports rose 57 percent, slowing from 62 percent growth
in the first half.
Toan said the Science and Technology Department has not
issued any guidelines to ensure GM crops are safe for mass
Delays in approving regulations mean the 2010 target is
unlikely to be met, according to the US report.
Vietnam aims for GM crops to account for about 70 percent
of production by 2020, the report said.
“Under this plan, Vietnam expects to create new plant varieties,
animal breeds and biotech products through application of
biotechnology, so as to enhance the competitiveness of its
agricultural and fishery products,” Huong wrote. Bloomberg
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