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Vietnam goes ahead with GMO development plan
by Huyen My
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VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese agronomists believe that staying against the genetically modified plants (GMP) is a blunder and that Vietnam should not waste more time to argue about this.

After 2 years of growing genetically modified maize species MON 89034, NK603 and Bt11, GA21 in different ecological zones, the Agricultural Institute of Genetics stated that it has not found out any danger of GMP to the environment and that GMP has some advantages that non-GMP do not have.

However, despite the conclusion, scientists still keep arguing about whether to put GMP into production in a large scale. Vietnamese scientists have not been convinced about the benefits of GMP, while they believe that some countries in the world, including the EU, have their reasons to prohibit some GMPs in their territories.

The scientists believe that what Vietnam should do now is wait and see, and that Vietnam would only develop GMPs when the scientific research works in the world can clarify the pros and cons of the plants.

However, Dr Le Huy Ham, Head of the Agricultural Institute of Genetics, has affirmed that Vietnam should not wait any longer.

“I don’t think we need to wait some more time. GMP should be applied in Vietnam, as soon as possible,” Ham said.

According to Ham, the regulations on risk management and biological safety management applied for GMP have been applied since 1980s, based on which GMPs have been put into cultivation in a large scale since 1996.

“The cultivation in the last 16 years shows that GMPs are safe to humans and biodiversity,” Ham said.

Meanwhile, some scientists have quoted EMBO, a European molecular biology, as saying that the main reason that led to the EU’s decision to restrict GMP cultivation is simply the effort to protect the local production.

Professor Vo Tong Xuan, a well-known agricultural expert in HCM City, also believes that Vietnam should not hesitate to develop GMP.

He said GMP have been grown in 30 countries in the world for the last tens of years, including big economies such as the US, China, India, and South East Asian countries like the Philippines and Myanmar.

“Yes-or-no” argument finishes, “what” is now on the debate

Scientists believe that it’s now not the right time to discuss about whether to allow to develop GMP in Vietnam. It’s now the time to think about what GMP varieties to choose after weighing the costs and profits.

Vietnam has been offered to use Golden Rice variety which is believed to contain high concentration of Vitamin A. The rice variety gives yellow color grains, while Vietnamese biggest export markets more favor white rice. This is also not the rice variety for the poor. Therefore, scientists believe that no need to put the rice variety into production.

“However, if the genetically modified technology can create the drought resistant rice variety, the thing which cannot be done by cross-breeding method, we may consider using the variety in the areas that lack water,” Xuan said.

Scientists have pointed out many outstanding features of genetically modified technology. In 2011, when insects attacked maize fields, GMP maize fields brought the yield higher by 30-40 percent than other maize fields. This showed that GMP can help stabilize the productivity in the context of disadvantages.

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