Crop Biotech Update

Experts Highlight Gene Editing Potentials for Vietnam’s Agri Sector

July 20, 2022

ISAAA Inc. in partnership with Vietnam's Institute of Agricultural Genetics (AGI) and the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Hanoi (USDA-FAS Hanoi) conducted the webinar Scientific Updates, Commercialization, and Regulatory Approaches of Gene-Edited Products on July 19, 2022, via Zoom. The event helped participants understand the latest information on the science of genome editing, the products that are already commercialized and those currently in the pipeline, as well as discuss the prevailing regulatory approaches and the challenges in developing policy guidelines on gene editing.

Among the invited participants were regulators from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) Research institutes. There were also representatives from universities and international organizations based in Vietnam, as well as from the associations and seed and agri-biotech developers.

The program started with a short briefing on the webinar objectives by the moderator, Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, ISAAA Inc.'s Executive Director. She then introduced Ms. Sarah Gilleski, the acting Agricultural Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, who gave the welcome remarks. This was followed by the opening message by Dr. Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Director of MARD's Department of Science and Technology. In her message, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Thuy emphasized the importance of the roles of the regulators from MARD and MONRE, as well as the potential of gene editing technology for the continuous progress of Vietnam's agricultural landscape.

The first presentation was delivered by Dr. Gabriel Romero, Executive Director of the Philippine Seed Industry Association. Dr. Romero gave a brief background on the principles of gene editing for crop improvement and precision breeding. He also cited the Philippines' regulation on gene editing, then discussed the gene editing global regulatory landscape followed by the potential benefits of gene-edited products. The second presenter, Dr. Le Huy Ham, AGI's Science Council Chair, complemented Dr. Romero's talk by explaining the regulatory system for the management of genetically modified (GM) crops and crop products in Vietnam. He also gave the current status of GM crop development in the country and its benefits. The latter part of his talk was about the perspective of the commercialization of gene-edited products in Vietnam and how it can address the current global agricultural challenges. Dr. Nguyen Duy Phuong of AGI then helped the participants understand the application of gene editing in crop research through his presentation which focused on the development of Vietnam's rice with improved bacterial leaf blight disease resistance using CRISPR-Cas9.

After the presentations, an open forum was held to give the participants the chance to direct their questions to the resource speakers. The closing remarks were given by Ms. Gilleski and Dr. Ham while the summary and conclusion were provided by Dr. Romero-Aldemita.

The webinar is the first in a series of four that aims to showcase the potential of agricultural biotechnology in facilitating sustainable food systems and adapting to and mitigating climate change with a special focus on Vietnam. To learn more about the upcoming activities, send an email to raldemita@isaaa.org or zbugnosen@isaaa.org.

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