Biotech Updates

Vietnam’s Animal Biotech Research Capability to Support Gov’t’s Agricultural and Environmental Sustainability Goals

September 14, 2022

ISAAA Inc., the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Hanoi (USDA FAS Hanoi), and the Vietnam Agricultural Genetics Institute organized the webinar Opportunities in Animal Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture on September 8, 2022, via Zoom. The webinar is the third in a series of four that aimed to explore the opportunities in animal biotechnology for further development of the food and agriculture industries of Vietnam.

Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, Executive Director of ISAAA Inc. served as facilitator of the event, while Dr. Pham Van Toan, Vice President of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, served as the moderator. During her welcome remarks, US Embassy Hanoi's Agricultural Attaché Ms. Sarah Gilleski expressed USDA's support for new breeding tools like genome editing to address the challenges of climate change and food security especially in Vietnam. She also mentioned the importance of the modernization of regulations to maximize the benefits of the technology and provide more opportunities and options for farmers, scientists and consumers alike.

Dr. Tong Xuan Chinh, Deputy Director General of the Department of Livestock Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, also gave his opening message, which focused on the importance of animal biotechnology in Vietnam's food and agriculture sectors. He stated Vietnam strives for food sustainability and environmental protection with agriculture as their foundation. The application and utilization of new scientific technology can help improve the quantity and quality of animal husbandry products and reduce the need for the animals' antibiotic intake. Alongside these new technologies, policies and regulations also play a role on their proper implementation to ensure that Vietnam will be able to face the challenges brought by climate change and achieve the targeted methane reduction goals by 2030.

Dr. Carl Ramage of Rautaki Solutions Ltd. in Australia talked about the global overview of animal biotechnology applications for food and agriculture, regulations, and potentials. His presentation dwelled on genetically engineered and gene-edited targets that have been identified and characterized by animals, along with the numerous biomedical models that have been generated using gene editing techniques. He stated that there are significant opportunities for improved animal health and welfare on the market especially in livestock, and that commercialization of the products will depend on a clear pathway to market and an effective value capture model. Most importantly, he said that it is important to strike a balance between risk management and innovation.

Dr. Claro Mingala, Director the Biotech Program Office of the Department of Agriculture in the Philippines and former Center Chief of the Livestock Biotech Center at the Philippine Carabao Center, talked about the animal biotechnology policy considerations in the Philippines. He gave a brief explanation on the evolution of the Philippine biotechnology regulatory system. Currently, the Philippines' regulatory policy on genetically modified animals is in the last stage of finalization and is expected to be signed by the heads of five government offices by the end of 2022 to take effect. He also emphasized that gene-edited products that do not contain novel combinations of genetic materials are not covered by the policy.

Dr. Nguyen Vien Linh of the Institute of Biotechnology of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology gave a mini review of the animal reproductive biotechnology in Vietnam and enumerated the milestones in animal reproductive biotechnology in the country. He presented two case studies, the development of ARTs for Vietnamese native pigs, and the development of ARTs and iSCNT for Gaur and Saola, which are bovines native to Vietnam. He noted that the establishment of ARTs and SCNT systems are necessary for the conservation of both domestic and wild animals. Animal reproductive biotechnology, including cryo-banking, could serve as a productive tool for ex-situ biodiversity conservation system in Vietnam in consideration of receiving support from an international network of in-situ and ex-situ biodiversity conservation system.

An open forum was held after the presentations. The webinar concluded with the closing remarks by Dr. Romero-Aldemita and an invitation to the last webinar of the series which will be held via Zoom in October 2022.

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