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Ministry of Agriculture discusses prospects of GMO in Kazakhstan

07 february 2014, 21:46
0
©RIA Novosti
©RIA Novosti
The Ministry of Agriculture is seriously considering ways of introducing GMO in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports.

Kazakhstan has always been a successful exporter of wheat that took pride in its wheat's gluten content and natural origin. However, the yield in Kazakhstan is far from being high. So the country is focusing on making labor more effective, introducing water-saving technologies and ... GMO.

This year the yield made 1290 kg per hectare, in 2012 it made 840 kg per hectare.

"Kazakhstan is planning to triple labor efficiency in agriculture and bring the wheat yield to 1400 kg per hectare in 2020 and to 2,000 kg per hectare in 2030," Bekbergen Kerey from the Kazakhstan Ministry of Environment and Water said in the context of investments needed for the sector.

Kazakhstan started moving in the direction of GMO after Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Central Asian country's president, mentioned it in his State-of-the-Nation Address less than a month ago. He instructed the Government to focus on drought resistant and genetically modified cultures. Nursultan Nazarbayev believes that Kazakhstan people are not sufficiently informed about the benefits of growing genetically modified crops and this explains their reluctance and fairs.

The Agriculture Ministry agrees that cultivation of genetically modified cultures would enable Kazakhstan to use its resources more efficiently, however, it is concerned that Kazakhstan's climate may not be right for them. Most of the generically modified crops were developed for areas with mild climate, whereas Kazakhstan's climate is sharply continental - hot summers and cold winders. The ministry is worried that the yield of the GMO crops is not going to be as high as in other regions. However, it hopes that the problem will be solves soon: "Large producers of genetically modified cultures are now working in this direction."

"If genetically modified crops enter Kazakhstan, the structure of its agriculture will undergo dramatic changes. Less feasible natural varieties will be pushed to the sidelines and subsequently disappear," the Ministry says.

But before introducing the GMO, Kazakhstan needs a legal framework to regulate the new area, in particular it needs an authority to monitor safety of genetic engineering and evaluate risks of use of GMO and laboratories capable of detecting presence of GMO in raw and finished goods.

The draft law to regulate GM-related activities in Kazakhstan has already been developed and is currently being reviewed by the Majilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament. The law will introduce mechanisms of licensing the activities involving use of genetically modified organizes, their registration, export and import, risks classification and specify other requirements to the activities involving genetic engineering.

Besides, Kazakhstan is not sure that it is ready to fully rely on foreign GMO developments alone. Kazakhstan's own scientists are ready to commercialize some of their new developments in selective breeding and genetic engineering. They have bred new varieties of drought resistant spring wheat with high protein content. They are also ready to present a hybrid corn that can grow in cold northern parts of the country and a new breed of rice resisted to the stressful conditions of the Aria Sea area where the soil is highly solinized. Besides, they have developed new varieties of feeding crops, such as wheat grass, rump, lucerne and sainfoin.

Kazakh breeders are not limiting themselves to plant breeding. They have bred new varieties of dairy cows Ak Yrys and Yertis that have higher milk yield and fat content in the milk then regular cows. Their flock of highly fertile meat breed Yetti Merinos sheep has reached 350 thousand sheep. Meat yield and fertility of this breed are 10% higher than those of regular sheep.

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