research activities in Vietnam are concentrated in several ministries
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
(MARD): Within MARD biotechnology research is conducted by several
national programs in many Research Institutes including Agricultural
Genetics Institute (AGI), Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute
(CLRRI), Vietnam Agricultural Science Institute (VASI), and Food
Crops Research Institute (FCRI), etc. At province level, many
plant tissue culture laboratories have been set up.
The National Center for Natural Science and Technology
(NCST): Under NCST, the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) has been
established as a leading biotechnology research institution of
Vietnam. IBT focuses on fundamental and applied research
in the field of biotechnology and related subjects.
The Universities: Within the Universities,
several Biotechnology Centers have been created.
has been developed at IBT and several national institutes of MARD
such as AGI and VASI. These Institutes implement national research
programs in biotechnology and focus on the development of genetically
modified organisms (GMOs). Presently, GMOs for agriculture could
be produced at least at four national research institutions as
follows: IBT, AGI, Institute of Tropical Biology (ITB), and CLRRI.
important genes have been introduced into many important crops
such as rice, papaya, potatoes, sugarcane, and tomato. These genes
include Xa21 (bacterial blight resistance); cryIA(a,b,c,d)
(insect resistance); chitinase gene (fungi disease resistance);
P5CS, OAT, Tps, Nha, HAL (salt and drought tolerance); CgS, SAT
(amino acids content enhancement); CP (PRSV resistance); ACC antisense
(delayed ripening), etc. At IBT, many industrial genes are using
for research and development (Table 2) and transformation experiments
of rice, sweet potato, papaya, potato, cotton and maize have been
attempted and several small-scale tests of transgenics at laboratory
and field trial levels have been conducted.
Table 2. Industrial
genes used for research and development at IBT
production of industrial enzyme
already has recombinant bacterial strains
production of industrial enzyme
at gene expression level
RIPs drug-products gene
industrial enzyme recombinant
molecular biology on
recombinant vaccine gene
At IBT and
some other Institutes, well-equipped laboratories for molecular
biology and genetic engineering have been setting up. Main facilities
and equipment included Automated DNA Sequencers, Oligonucleotide
Synthesizer, Thermocyclers, Ultracentrifuges, Micromanipulator,
Biolistic Particle Delivery System, Fermentors (5-85L), Continuous
Centrifuge, Spray Dryer, Freeze Dryer, FPLC System, UV Spectrophotometer,
Automated Amino Acid Analyzer, Electrophoresis Systems, Green
House and Experiment Fields, Animal House, Bio-informatic Unit,
Research Library, etc. With all these essential research facilities,
the research works have achieved some impressive results. However,
up to now no GM crop has been released in Vietnam.
status of Bio-safety in Vietnam
on Biological Diversity (CBD), entered into effect on December
29, 1993 establishes important principles regarding all aspects
of biological diversity. Under this convention, the Cartagena
Protocol was adopted as a guiding framework for activities on
safety in biotechnology.
a party of CBD since 1994 but has not yet signed the Cartagena
Protocol on bio-safety. However, Vietnam recognizes the ecological
and economic importance of an effective bio-safety regulation
in biotechnology development. It also recognizes the need to have
in place an appropriate safety regulation before large-scale field
trials of GMOs are being conducted and released to the environment.
At present, Vietnam is in a process of designing, developing safety
regulation and has brought into the government consideration for
rectification and approval of Cartagena Protocol.
for drafting the National Regulation on Safe Management of Living
Modified Organisms and their products (the Regulation) lies with
the National Environment Agency (NEA) under Ministry of Science,
Technology and Environment (MOSTE) and AGI of MARD. However, many
experts from biotechnology research institutes and governmental
agencies are strongly contributed and involved in drafting and
incorporating the Regulation in National Laws. The draft Regulation
has passed and endorsed by the Committee, which was led by the
MOSTE and is now under consideration by the Government. So far,
Vietnam has not had in place the Regulation as well as the monitoring
procedures for implementing it. This is one of the reasons that
delay the further GMOs product development.
are risks associated with either the use or the non-use of GM
crops. To minimize the risk of genetic recombination even further,
institutional bio-safety guidelines for laboratories and research
work have been prepared and implemented in few biotechnology research
institutes without setting up of institutional bio-safety committees.
at IBT bio-safety is of a major important issue and therefore
having received much attention. Its own bio-safety guideline has
been implemented in a professional manner. Followings are some
activities on bio-safety that have been carried out:
all students, visiting fellows and junior researchers on bio-safety
before employment in specific research laboratories; and
with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech
Applications (ISAAA) a workshop on biotechnology awareness addressing
many aspects of bio-safety issues. Biotechnologists, ecologists,
regulatory bodies are getting benefit greatly from this event.
biotechnology programs including an associated project on risk
assessment leading by Dr. Le Tran Binh.
the existing regulatory institution is not adequate for oversight
of biotechnology products since there is no national legislation
to address all aspects of bio-safety issues so far.
of the National Regulation on Safe Management of Living Modified
Organisms and their products
aims at ensuring that the use of biotechnology products
will not be detrimental to the environment and human health.
addresses issues associated with the conduct of containment
trials, field tests and the transport of GMOs within Vietnam as
well as trans-boundary movement of GMOs.
of this Regulation states that: The Regulation shall apply
to all domestic and foreign organizations and individuals whose
activities undertaken on the territory of Vietnam are related
to biological safety, including the research, deployment and development,
management, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of
GMOs and their products.
Challenges and Constraints
most industrialized countries, bio-safety regulations have been
implemented since the mid 1980s, Vietnam now is still in process
of developing and implementing safety regulation in a harmony
with the ASEAN framework. Therefore, as a new practice, drafting
and implementing of the Regulation has posed challenges and constraints.
These challenges are:
Lack of understanding or misunderstanding
of bio-safety among scientists and media
Lack of well –trained personnel who are involved
in developing and implementing bio-safety regulatory mechanisms.
Insufficiency of monetary and enforcement
Lack of experience in the regulatory process
and in analyzing the environmental risks of small and large scale
field releases and commercial use of transgenic crops.
Lack of facilities for analyzing the risk
Inadequate institutional capacity.
It is very
important to develop National Projects, which focus on the preparation
of a National Bio-safety Framework including regulatory, administration
and decision-making systems, and mechanisms for public participation
and information. Here are some of the activities:
Gathering of necessary information concerning
the use of modern biotechnology, existing legislation on biotechnology
Establishing Committees such as: National/Institutional
Bio-safety Committees, GM Advisory Committee, Review Committee,
and GMO Approval Committee to enforce the Regulation;
Training Bio-safety Committees at both institutional
and national levels to conduct scientifically sound bio-safety
Developing National Bio-safety Database and
linkages to the Bio-safety Clearing House;
Drafting legal instruments as Guidelines
for implementing the Regulation;
Sharing of experience on the organization
and risk analysis with other countries, which are in a more advanced
stage of drafting and enforcing bio-safety regulations;
Cooperating with other countries and international
organizations in developing relevant educational, public awareness
programs and intensive workshops on bio-safety.
National Focal Points on Bio-safety
National Environment Agency (NEA)
67 Nguyen Du, Hanoi, Vietnam.
General: Nguyen Ngoc Sinh
Insitute of Biotechnology (IBT)
18 Hoang Quoc Viet Rd., Hanoi, Vietnam.
Prof. Dr. Le Tran Binh
Fax: +84-4-836 3144
Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI)
Pham Van Dong Rd., Tu Liem, Hanoi, Vietnam
Prof. Dr. Tran Duy Quy
Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute
O Mon, Can Tho
Prof. Dr. Bui Chi Buu
Institute of Tropical Biology (ITB)
1 Mac Dinh Chi, Hochiminh City
Dr. Nguyen Tien Thang
Food Crops Research Institute (FCRI)
Gia Loc, Hai duong
Bsc. Tran Quoc Tuan
Vietnam Agricultural Science Institute (VASI)
Thanh Tri, Hanoi
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Huu Nghia
Tran Binh. Current status of Plant Biotechnology in Vietnam. Paper
presented at the Workshop on Biotechnology Awareness in Hanoi,
6-7 July, 2001.
Tran Binh. Current status of genetic engineering research in Vietnam.
Proceedings of National Biotechnology Conference, Hanoi, 1999,
version of Vietnamese Regulation on Safe Management of Living
Organisms and their Products.