November 12, 2008
Vietnam starts GM crop trials
Following a 2010 government roadmap plan, Vietnam will start trials on genetically-modified (GM) crops such as corn, cotton and soy in laboratories and in the fields.
According to VietnamNet newspaper, the country will plant genetically-modified species of corn, cotton and soy on a large scale by 2011.
During a conference in Hanoi on the global influence in biotechnology-enhanced plants, Graham Brookes from the British Economic Institute said the productivity of each hectare of corn in Vietnam is 4.5 tonnes. With biotechnology, it can increase by 28 percent on lesser production costs.
In Asia, genetically-modified plants have a higher yield than normal varieties; 20 percent more for soy, 7 percent for corn, 15 percent for cotton, and 3 percent for colza. GM planting is allowed in 23 countries and 670 GM-based products are sold in 53 countries.
In Vietnam, the Agricultural Hereditary Institute has compiled a set of rules on testing and evaluating genetically-modified plants.
Nguyen Quoc Binh, director of the HCM City Biotechnology Centre said it will grow an anti-pesticide corn variety, a genetically-modified plant from the Philippines, on a trial basis.
Binh said this variety can help increase farmers' incomes by US$100 per hectare per crop compared to normal corn trees though the price of seeds is US$20-US$30/ha higher than for normal seeds.
Vietnam has more than 1 million hectares of corn and if this variety is grown, farmers could earn an additional US$100 million/crop in four months.