Vietnam agencies are investigating Japan's claim that it has found genetically modified organisms (GMO) in pho (rice noodles) exported by a local company, the news website of the Vietnam Farmers' Union reported on Thursday.
According to Dan Viet, on November 11, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked Bich Chi Food Joint-stock Co. in the southern province of Dong Thap to take samples of rice it used to produce pho for further tests.
The tests will be conducted by QUATEST 3 - the Ho Chi Minh City office of Vietnam's Quality Assurance and Testing Center.
The ministry also ordered the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) to take more samples from other rice products exported from Dong Thap for tests, it reported.
The news website said previously, following the accusations, Bich Chi Co. sent samples for tests. On October 14 and 19, QUATEST 3 concluded that it found no GMO in the company's samples of rice, rice noodles, rice flour and manioc starch.
It quoted the company's letter to VFA as saying that the company produces pho with rice bought locally, and starch bought from Tay Ninh Province.
Pham Thanh Binh, director general of Bich Chi, denied the accusations in an interview with the Nong thon ngay nay, which is also managed by the farmers' association.
He said there was no reason to import materials for production, and Vietnam doesn't have genetically modified rice.
Binh said he has asked for help from VFA as well as from Vietnam's embassy in Japan, adding that the company is in trouble because many orders have been canceled.
Duong Quoc Nghia, director of Dong Thap's department of Agriculture and Rural Development, also stressed that GM rice isn't available in Dong Thap.
In fact, Vietnam's laws don't allow the import and trade of GM rice, so there is very little chance that the rice is available locally, Nguyen Tri Ngoc, chief of the ministry's planting department, said.
"Not only rice, but all GM food has yet to be allowed to be brought into Vietnam for consumption and trade," he stressed.
VFA Chairman Truong Thanh Phong told the news website that the claims will affect a lot of Vietnam's rice exports and other rice products to Japan as well as to other countries.
His association has asked local ministries to handle this case soon to restore the reputation of Vietnam rice.