GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

BUSINESS & POLICY: Turkey the delicate GM balance





------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   TURKEY ? THE DELICATE GM BALANCE

SOURCE:  World Crops, UK

AUTHOR:  Taylan Bilgiç

URL:     http://www.worldcrops.com/8624-turkey-%E2%80%93-the-delicate-gm-balance/

DATE:    15.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Turkey?s economy grew in Q2 for the ninth successive quarter, and by 8.8% on the previous year. The rate of GDP growth surprised even the central bank, and while inflation is not yet a concern, food prices are high and rising. This has brought the complicated issue of genetically modified food to the fore, with a request to the government from feed, poultry and egg producers to allow imports of three types of genetically GM corn to be used as animal and chicken feed. ?We can solve our raw material problem only through imports,? says Ulku Karakus, chief of the Turkish Feed Industrialists Union, explaining the problem. ?Costly feed translates into expensive meat. Unless we pull down the cost of feed, we cannot drive down meat prices.?"

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


TURKEY ? THE DELICATE GM BALANCE

Turkey has cracked the door to imports of genetically modified (GM) corn, and it?s only a matter of time until that door gets blown wide open.

Turkey?s economy grew in Q2 for the ninth successive quarter, and by 8.8% on the previous year (Q2 2010 ? Q2 2011). The rate of GDP growth surprised even the central bank, and while inflation is not yet a concern, food prices are high and rising.

This has brought the complicated issue of genetically modified (GM) food to the fore, with a request to the government from feed, poultry and egg producers to allow imports of three types of genetically GM corn to be used as animal and chicken feed.

?We can solve our raw material problem only through imports,? says Ulku Karakus, chief of the Turkish Feed Industrialists Union, explaining the problem. ?Costly feed translates into expensive meat. Unless we pull down the cost of feed, we cannot drive down meat prices.?

Industrial groups sent the request to Turkey?s Biosafety Board, which in August agreed to allow imports of three types of GM corn: Bt11 corn by Sygenta and the DAS1507 and DAS59122 maize by Pioneer/Dow AgroScience. But even though the Board was swift to reassure domestic producers that the current 130% tariff on imports remains in place, and had promised to consult the public on the issue there are real doubts about the transparency of the process. Legally, once the decision to allow GM corn imports was made, a 21 day period to gather public reactions should have been instituted. But much of this stated period coincided with the long Ramadan holiday, and technical problems prevented people from submitting their reactions electronically for part of the period. Worse, the public is still in the dark about the results of the reactions that were registered.

The Board?s decision is expected to make way for imports of more than 20 other corn and maize types ? although there is no shortage of domestic supply for these grains. Quite the opposite; in the past decade, land planted to corn in Turkey expanded from 550,000 hectares to 594,000 hectares, while corn production nearly doubled from 2.3 million metric tonnes to 4.3 million tonnes. Such surge in output matched a natural decline in imports. In 2000, imports amounted to near 1.3 million tonnes, but in 2010 they dropped to below half a million tonnes.

One of the main causes for the increase in corn planting was the rise in labour costs for cotton farming on Anatolia?s plains. As farmers began to shun cotton, output fell from near 850,000 tonnes in 2006 to just 380,000 tonnes in 2009. That trend flipped briefly last year; after global cotton prices soared, cotton output rose to 490,000 tonnes in 2010. But given cotton?s current price trajectory, this is likely to have been only a temporary reversal.

Right now it looks like corn is moving up in importance in Turkey?s fluctuating agricultural equation. And industrialists see no way out other than imports ? just like the textile manufacturers who had to import cotton in the past few years.

It may be that GM crops are the solution to this problem, but as an increasingly important global economic power, the Turkish authorities must pay greater attention to managing the delicate balances of choices and expectations in the agricultural sector. If they decide to use GM crops as a means to resolve this tension, then they must also find ways to address public concerns over the issue, rather than turning the law into a complicated masquerade.