Philippines to export for first time hybrid corn seed to Vietnam in 2 years’ time
Feb. 9, 2011
The Philippines will be able to export for the first time its hybrid corn seed once nearby Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam opens up to biotechnology products within the next two years.
The country is awaiting the regulation for a freer market in its neighbors to be able to export hybrid and genetically modified (GM) corn seeds.
“We’ll see how deregulation will work in other countries (so we can then export seeds). The Vietnamese government is very supportive of this technology,” Peter Pickering, Syngenta Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd., told reporters visiting Syngenta’s hybrid corn seed processing plant in Binalonan, Pangasinan.
The Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country that has commercialized GM crops, and as such holds an immense opportunity to export its GM corn seeds along with the hybrids. All GM corn seeds are also hybrids.
“The Philippines is the only one that has deregulated this technology (GM crops). That’s very important for us. We have great cooperation with the regulatory authority in the Philippines.
We believe the Filipino farmer is a progressive farmer” which is why Syngenta has completed its trials on GM quickly, according to Pickering.
Practically all the Philippines’ neighbors are interested in hybrid and potentially GM corn as this must be the solution to the global problem of food shortage.
“You name it, they’re all interested. Vietnam, Indonesia, China,” he said. Vietnam presently imports its hybrid corn seeds from Thailand as much as the Philippines imports hybrid corn seeds from Thailand. But even Thailand has not commercialized GM crops.
Filipino farmers have been able to raise their corn yield from just around four-five metric tons (MT) to as much as 10 MT per hectare with hybrid and GM corn. Available GM corn varieties are the Asiatic corn borer resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, herbicide resistant corn, and those with stacked trait, having resistance to both herbicide and borers, and even other insect pests.
Syngenta sees the seed export plan to be possible after it put up an $8-million seed processing plant in Binalonan, Pangasinan. The plant is right where its seed production area, covering 1,000 hectares, is.
The construction of the plant also enables reduction of the country’s seed importation, freeing up a foreign exchange for other uses.
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