There are three different groups of countries in the world which keep different viewpoints about GMO. The first group includes the countries that advocate GMO, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, India and Australia. The second group comprises of the countries which do not support the new technology, mostly European countries. And the third group still keeps the wait-and-see attitude.
In Vietnam, according to Dr Le Huy Ham, Head of the Agriculture Genetics Institute, only since 2007, did the state set up the directional plan to research and apply GMO. In the last few years, the development of genetically modified crops (GMC) in a trial basis has been allowed for some kinds of plants, such as cotton, corn, papaya and some forestry trees.
As for corn GMC alone, Thai Monsanto Company with three varieties MON89034, NK603 and MON89034 x NK60, Vietnamese Syngenta with BT11 and GA21 got the license from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for growing in a trial basis.
In July 2007, the Prime Minister signed the decision on approving the overall plan to strengthen the bio-safety management capability over GMOs and the goods originating from GMOs. The project focuses on building the legal framework on the policies on bio-safety management policies and heightening the awareness of the community about bio-safety.
Keeping cautious not a useless thing
Vietnamese agriculture experts believe that Vietnam needs to follow a reasonable roadmap in approaching GMC. In the first step, it needs to collect information and analyze the two-sided impacts of GMC, in order to reach a consensus in the society abut the use of GMC.
Secondly, Vietnam needs to allocate higher budget to upgrade the material facilities and improve the labor force for basic research works to create GMC in Vietnam.
Thirdly, Vietnam should think of growing in a large scale some kinds of GMCs including cotton, forestry trees, ornamental trees, strictly following the biosafety rules.
Dr Nguyen Hong Minh, Director of the Center for High Quality Vegetable Variety Research and Development, has warned that the expenses for GMC seeds are much more expensive than normal seeds, while the expenses would be increasingly high, once farmers depend on supply companies. Meanwhile, farmers would not be able to resume the old ways of cultivation after they apply GMO, because the biological environment has changed with quite different conditions.
Minh has pointed out that if the farm produce prices are the same for both GMCs and normal products, farmers would choose GMCs. “In the first 5-10 years, farmers would not be busy, while they can have higher yield and have to spend less time on dealing with insects. However, they would be enjoy the good time for a short period,” Minh said.
“The risk they would face is very high, once farmers depend on multi-national variety supply companies which have the power to define the prices,” he added.
International experts have warned that GMC variety supply companies have registered the varieties to confirm their ownership, which means that they would have the power to control the organisms in the globe with their cross-fertilize. Especially, the companies may create the varieties with infertility gene, which means that they can be used to grow one time.
Ham has also confirmed that the current GMCs can be grown for two or three crops, and after that, they would provide low yield. While Vietnam still cannot master the GMO technology, it would be really a high risk if it grows GMCs in a large scale.