Help farmers understand biotech crops
14:55 - 09/04/2021
Considered as one of the solutions to improve crop productivity and reduce production cost, biotech crops have contributed to the process of agricultural restructuring and production development in localities.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh (middle), Vice Chairman of VNFU; Mr. Tran Xuan Dinh - Vice President, General Secretary of the Vietnam Seed Trade Association and Prof. Dr. Le Huy Ham, former Director of Agricultural Genetics Institute chaired the seminar

According to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh – Vice Chairman of Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VNFU), it is necessary to strengthen propaganda for farmers to raise awareness about potentials and benefits of biotech crops.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh, Vice Chairman of VNFU chaired the seminar.

Biotech maize area accounts for 10%
The statistic shows that the total area of biotech maize cultivated in Vietnam in the whole period 2015-2019 was 225.000ha. In 2019, the cultivation area of biotech maize was 92.000ha, accounted for 10% of the total area of maize in the country.

By the end of June 2017, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had specifically recognized 16 genetically modified maize varieties, of which there was only 10 cultivars and these varieties have been recognized in Vietnam.

Notably, the yield of biotech maize varieties with insecticide resistance and insecticide tolerance was 15.2-30% higher than the conventional hybrid maize varieties. Profit from planting biotech maize varieties increased from 4.5 to 7.6 million VND/ha. The amount of pesticides used when cultivating biotech maize was significantly reduced, with 26% of herbicides and 78% of pesticides.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh (middle), Vice Chairman of VNFU; Mr. Tran Xuan Dinh - Vice President, General Secretary of the Vietnam Seed Trade Association and Prof. Dr. Le Huy Ham, former Director of Agricultural Genetics Institute chaired the seminar.

Mr. Hoang Trong Ngai, a maize farmer in Duc Bac commune, Song Lo district (Vinh Phuc province), said that he and local people in Duc Bac commune have cultivated biotech maize since 2015. The current area of biotech maize in the commune is 120ha.

“We choose biotech mazie due to its resistance to pests and diseases, good resistance to natural conditions and unfavorable weather” – Mr. Ngai said.

Meanwhile, Mr . Nguyen Thanh Phong, a maize farmer in Nam Dan district (Nghe An province), said that the biotech maize varieties are 95% resistant to pest, while conventional maize varieties, especially under high temperature conditions such as in Nghe An, are almost completely damaged by the worms, leading to no longer harvest.

“Thanks to not having to spray pesticides, my family has saved the cost of buying and spraying pesticides, and the yield increased by up to 20% compared to before” – Mr. Phong said.

It is necessary to provide accurate information about biotech maize
At the seminar “Contribution of biotech crops to agriculture in Vietnam” organized by Vietnam Seed Trade Association (VSTA), Vietnam Farmers Union and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) on the afternoon of April 7th, many opinions indicate that there are still incorrect views and understandings about biotech crops.

Thai Nguyen farmers in the biotech maize field (NK4300 BT/Gt variety). Photo: A.T

Mr. Tran Xuan Dinh – Vice President, General Secretary of VSTA said “Many varieties created by biotechnology has been present in Vietnam, helping farmers to change the structure of crop and animals, raise income by increasing productivity and reducing cost of pesticides”.

According to ISAAA, with the addition of three African countries, the number of countries cultivating biotech crops has risen to 29 in 2019, among which the top 5 countries are the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India.
It was estimated that 1.95 billion people, or 26% of the world's population, have benefited from biotechnology in 2019.

Dr. Rhodora R. Aldemita, Director of ISAAA South East Asia Center cum Director of ISAAA Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology added “In 2019, a total of 190.4 million hectares of biotech crops were planted, making an important contribution to addressing food security, sustainability, climate change issues. Vietnam is one 3 the country has a double-digit growth in acreage under the biotech crops along with the Philippines and Colombia”

Analysis of biotech crop impacts on a global scale, Dr. Graham Brookes - PG Economic Institute has cited the data in the most recent study published in 2020: “Up to the year 2018, the total income increase for farmers cultivating biotech crops was 19 billion US. Farmers, especially smallholder farmers in developing countries, have benefited more clearly from biotech crops.”

Regarding different assessments of biotech crops, Dr. Graham said that the reason is that the information was not transmitted correctly. "Talking with farmers who have already used biotech crops will dispel doubts about genetically modified crops" - Dr. Graham said.

Regarding to the future of biotechnology application in agriculture, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Farmers Association, said: “According to Decision No. 429/QD-TTg dated March 24, 2021 approving the Scheme to develop agricultural biotechnology up to 2023, one of the goals by 2030 is to master some of the next generation of biotechnology, creating large-scale products and increasing the number of biotech businesses in the agricultural sector by at least 30% compared with the period 2021-2025”. This shows that the development and application of biotechnology in agriculture is a common direction to catch up with world trends.

“Vietnam Farmers’ Union will coordinate to develop activities to raise awareness of farmers about the potential and benefits of biotech crops as well as solving difficulties in research and application in practice”, Mr. Dinh said.
Anh Tho - Translated by Ha Thu
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