Vietnam to push ahead with genetically modified crops

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Vietnam will be planting genetically modified (GM) crops on a large scale from 2013 onwards, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said at a conference Friday.


Pham Van Toan, chief of the ministry's biotech office, said so far three foreign companies have been licensed to test three varieties of GM crops maize, soybean, and levant cotton.


The government has ordered the planting of these crops during the 2010-2015 period, he said.


After a lot of research and experiments, international scientists have concluded that GM crops don't cause harms to human health, the ecological environment as well as microorganisms in the ground, Toan claimed at the conference dealing with biotech applications in Vietnam's agricultural development.


The studies are a good base for many countries in the world to expand GM crops, he added.


Agreeing with Toan, economist Pham Chi Lan said it was necessary to apply biotech applications in agriculture, considering the country's agricultural land area has not increased in recent years, and the sector is facing the challenges of increasing population and climate change.


Earlier this year, the Vietnamese government had announced a major plan to cover half of the country's agriculture land with gene-altered crops by 2020.


So far, the field trials of GM maize have been held at two places - in the Red River Delta's Hung Yen Province and the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.


However, experts have since expressed their concern over the project, suggesting the government adopts a much more prudent approach and give serious thought to it, as the risks pertaining to GM crops are still unknown.


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