Genetically modified crops are expected to be approved for use in Vietnam shortly, with the commercialisation of the crops beginning by the end of the year at the latest, according to Le Huy Ham, Head of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

He made the remark at the conference entitled “Global Prospects of Genetically Modified Crops in 2014 ” organised by the Academy in collaboration with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) in Hanoi on February 3.

According to Clive James, Chairman Emeritus of the ISAAA, Vietnam is the 29th country to adopt genetically engineered or biotech crops.

Biotech crops have been planted in many countries around the world, such as the Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh, Innate Potatoes and alfalfa grass in the Unites States, drought-resistant sugarcane in Indonesia and virus-resistant soybeans in Brazil.

James noted that genetically modified crops have contributed to sustainable development and food security as well as the adaptation to climate change.

In the past 20 years, biotech crops have helped increase yields by 22 percent, reduce the use of pesticides by 37 percent, and increase farmer profits by 68 percent, he said.

The increased yield of biotech crops also helps preserve biological diversity thanks to reduced cultivation area, protect the environment as a result of reduced use of chemical fertilisers, and limit greenhouse gas emissions by cutting up to 28 billion kilograms of CO2, equal to taking 12.4 million cars off the road for a year.

Biotech crops have entered their 19th year of commercialisation and are currently planted across a combined area of 181.5 million hectares, according to the ISAAA.

The United States is the top country in terms of cultivation area with 73.1 million hectares and is growing by four percent, or three million hectares, annually. It is followed by Brazil and Argentina.-VNA