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Turkey’s biosafety law causes heavy losses to agri-food chain


(11 Mai 2012) According to the new Economic Impact Assessment by British consultant Graham Brookes (PG Economics), Turkey’s biosafety law has had a substantial negative economic impact on the food manufacturing and livestock production sectors. Turkey has approved 16 genetically modified soybean and maize plants for feed use and introduced a zero tolerance threshold for the presence of unapproved GMOs. This number stands in stark contrast to the 56 GM crops which are marketed globally for food and animal feed production. Total separation of different GM crops along the entire global production and transport chain is practically impossible to achieve, meaning that even slight traces of unapproved GMOs can make many agricultural imports unmarketable in Turkey. According to the study, this has led to considerable trade and market disruption, valued at over $0.8 billion since 2009, which corresponds to approximately 33% – 50% of the total annual net profitability of the Turkish food and drink sector.

Turkey’s GMO regulation came into force in September 2009 with the aim of controlling the importation and use of GMOs. So far, no GM crops have been granted approval for food use in Turkey and only three GM soybean lines and 13 maize lines have been approved for feed use. By contrast, 56 GM crops are currently grown worldwide for feed and food products. This makes the import of soybeans and maize more difficult, if not impossible. The worldwide supply of soybean and soymeal relies predominately on a few GMO-producing countries such as Brazil, Argentina and the USA, and alternative sources of conventional soybeans are scarce and more expensive. However, dust and admixtures in the supply chain make totally effective separation of the different GM soybean and maize lines practically impossible. Consequently, even slight traces of unapproved GMOs have led to the exclusion of many import products from the Turkish market in recent years.

In particular, Turkey’s animal feed supplies, which are largely based on soybean and maize, have been stalled by the new legislation and the author of the study expects the on-going annual cost to be between $0.7 billion and $1 billion, or possibly higher. Those at greatest risk are the small and medium-sized businesses that dominate the Turkish food and feed sector.

The future ‘pipeline’ of new traits and combinations of existing/new ‘stacked’ traits being approved for use in global agriculture is increasing rapidly. In December 2011 four more GM soybean plants were commercialized that are not approved in Turkey. Because of the expected widening discrepancy between the timing of new GMO approvals in Turkey compared to the major crop-supplying countries, the author predicts that the negative impact is likely to get progressively worse. This may also affect Turkey’s entire economy in the long run. The reduced profitability, increased uncertainty and market disruption may result in processing facilities relocating outside Turkey, leading to lower levels of income and employment generation.

According to the author, the Turkish GMO approval system differs from all other national regulatory approval mechanisms and it lacks transparency. He recommends implementing a strictly science-based system to overcome the economic consequences of the asynchronous approval process in Turkey compared with the rest of the world.

 

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An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

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