Biotech Updates

Vietnamese Government Push for Agbiotechnology to Help Mitigate Climate Change Effects

August 17, 2022

ISAAA Inc., in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Hanoi (USDA FAS Hanoi) and Vietnam's Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI), held the webinar Crop Biotechnology for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation on August 11, 2022 via Zoom. The target audience were government officials working on climate change programs at Vietnam's Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. They were also joined by scientists, researchers, academics, media practitioners, and industry representatives.

Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, Executive Director of ISAAA Inc., opened the webinar by presenting the webinar objectives and house rules. Ms. Sarah Gilleski of USDA FAS Hanoi then took over as moderator and introduced Mr. Ralph Bean, Agricultural Councilor at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, to deliver the welcome remarks. His message emphasized the timeliness of the webinar as Vietnam works towards its goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and significantly reducing its methane emissions. Vietnamese scientists and regulators are exploring the latest techniques and products brought by modern biotechnology to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of climate-focused crop varieties and animals while taking into consideration the consumer-oriented traits and trade facilitation.

Dr. Giang Thu Nguyen, Deputy Director of the Department of Science, Technology and the Environment of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) also delivered an opening message and talked about how Vietnam is experiencing the effects of climate change specifically the rising level of the Mekong Delta, the decrease of arable land for agriculture, increase in pest and disease incidences, and crop yield loss. Vietnam is currently promoting research, development and application of science and technology in agriculture and it considers biotechnology's important role in sustainable socio-economic development in achieving the country's net zero emissions by 2050.

These were followed by a presentation by Dr. Paul S. Teng, Managing Director, NIE International Pte. Ltd., and Adjunct Senior Fellow, Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, both of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and ISAAA's Chairman of the Board. Dr. Teng discussed how crop biotechnology can help mitigate the effects of climate change around the world and in Asia. His key message was that there is a need for policies and investments that aims to encourage climate change adaptation facilitated by the government and the private sector in order to successfully develop climate change-adapted crop varieties.

The second speaker was Dr. Tran Dai Nghia, Head of the Climate Change Division of the Research Institute for Policy and Strategy in Agriculture, MARD. In relation to the first presentation, he discussed that biotechnology should be considered by Vietnam as vital for the transformation toward ecological, climate change resilient, low carbon and high value added agro-food system in the country. He also emphasized how biotechnology can help control and treat environmental pollution in crop production, animal husbandry, aquaculture, human and animal pharmaceuticals, among others.

The last presentation by Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet of the Molecular Biology Department of the Vietnam Agricultural Genetics Institute was about the advances of rice molecular breeding for adaptation to climate change in Vietnam, focusing on two specific climate-smart rice varieties that are currently being developed in Vietnam. One variety was tolerant to saline condition, while the other is resistant to bacterial blight disease and brown plant hopper with medium resistance to rice blast disease.

An open forum was held after the presentations to enhance the participants' knowledge gain on the topic. The closing remarks and way forward were given by Ms. Saraha Gilleski to conclude the webinar.

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