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 Office.
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 production.
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