Vietnam’s agriculture ministry approved the imports of four of Monsanto’s corn varieties in August, raising questions about the country’s partnership with the manufacturer of Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.
The four varieties of genetically modified (GM) corn approved in the country are MON89034 and NK603 from DeKalb Vietnam, a subsidiary of Monsanto, and Syntenga’s GA21 and MIR162. Approval of MR162 is under consideration.
Vietnamese government formulated a plan in 2006 to develop GM crops as part of a “major program for the development and application of biotechnology in agriculture and rural development.” The country is looking to harvest its first GM crops by 2015 and have 30-50 percent of the country’s farmland covered with genetically modified organisms by 2020.
Officials in Vietnam appear to believe the introduction of GM crops is a logical way to improve yields and feed a growing population of 90 million people at a reasonable price. Monsanto and its supporters say GMOs are a promising solution to Vietnam’s food security concerns. Opponents are concerned, among other things, that the U.S. will try to impose restrictive intellectual property rules that could be damaging to developing countries.
Vietnam, Agent Orange, and GMOs.