U-turn on GM in Turkey

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Maize Food Gm

U-turn on GM in Turkey
Turkey’s food industry has reversed plans that would have led to a fuller exploration of genetic modification (GM), bowing to pressure from a Greenpeace campaign.

The country’s food industry trade body, the Federation of Food and Drink Industry Associations of Turkey (TGDF), announced yesterday that it had withdrawn an application to import 29 kinds of GM organism. The decision deals a blow to the nation’s exploration of GM food, as more than 2,000 trade members are associated with the organisation.

The move was made, said the TGDF, in view of public opinion and the unfavourable reactions caused by non-governmental organisations.

A total of 326,000 people reportedly backed the ‘Yemezler’ (“We do not buy it”) campaign, which was launched by Greenpeace Mediterranean.

‘Huge public mobilisation’

“Our campaign involved a huge public mobilization and thousands of e-mails, messages and tweets flooded these companies' Facebook pages, mailboxes and websites,”​ Tarik Nejat Dinç, agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Mediterranean, told FoodNavigator.

“Our campaign and the mobilization it created were picked up by national newspapers and TV, hitting the headlines of several major national newspapers. And yesterday, on August 15th, TGDF announced in a public statement, that it withdrew its 29 GMO foodstuff applications.”

He said the Greenpeace victory followed similar results targeting GM animal feed. It claims its calls to the Turkish Biosafety Board (TBB) to reject applications to allow nine animal feed varieties of GM maize to enter Turkey led to the TBB rejecting six.

Mandatory labelling

In addition, Dinç said the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock had responded to pressure from Greenpeace and agreed to impose mandatory labelling for all products from animals fed with GM feed.

“Last month the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Mehdi Eker publicly announced that they started to work on a new regulation that would impose a mandatory labeling for GMO fed animal products. Once this new regulation is finalized and imposed, it will be a breakthrough not only for Turkey, but for the global anti-GM movement as well.”

TGDF’s announcement that it was dropping its GM foodstuff applications came after that and has so far only been released in Turkish.

Another application by the Unak Gida Company to import three kinds of GM soy beans to the country still stands. However, Greenpeace Mediterranean has said it is determined to see this application fail too.

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