Vietnam gov't to ask public for feedback on GMOs

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The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will poll public opinion on the risks posed by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before granting biological safety certificates to gene altered crops and livestock.

In a draft circular on granting the certificates, the ministry says an agency established to assess the applications will post a report on the environmental and biodiversity risks of GMOs on a website in order to collect public feedback over a one month period.

After the agency announces the results of its assessment, the ministry will consider granting the certificates to the registered GMOs.

According to the ministry, a certificate can be revoked if new evidence about the risks of the GMOs is uncovered or if the ministry finds that individuals or organizations provided false information about the GMOs in order to receive certification.

In 2010, the government announced a plan to cover between 30 percent and half of the country's agricultural land with the controversial gene altered crops by 2020.

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Since then, many local scientists have said the "modern varieties" could be a good choice to ensure food security as Vietnam is among the countries that would be hardest hit by climate change, which is expected to negatively impact large areas of farmland.

But increasing numbers of people, including experts, have expressed concerns over the harmful consequences and risks that GMOs create to the environment, human health and the economy.

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