Wednesday, November 9, 2011

US strong-arms Turkey

US asks Turkey to change GMO regulation
Hürriyet Daily News
November 8, 2011

US authorities have asked Turkey to be more tolerant with its legislation on GMO, a Turkish daily reports. Meanwhile, the Turkish Agriculture Minister denies the claims

U.S. officials have asked for changes to be made to Turkey’s regulation on genetically modified organisms (GMO) exports to Turkish markets, daily Radikal reported yesterday.

The request came in response to a request by Turkish officials, who asked the U.S. to ease customs regulations for importing fresh food to the U.S. market. Turkey’s Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker denied the claim.

“The U.S. officials said that if Turkey wants easier custom procedures for its exports to U.S. market, the country should start dealing with the current GMO regulation, which brings hard penalties,” Radikal reported yesterday. According to the report, officials said the suggestions were made during the Economic Partnership Commission meeting between officials from both countries Oct. 3 in Ankara.

‘No way to change law’

Denying claims regarding the alleged content of talks between officials, Eker said, “There is no way of us having negotiations on Turkey’s GMO regulation,” according to a report by Doğan news agency (DHA) yesterday. “No one can expect us to make changes in the current GMO regulation.”

He said the issue might have been raised during the unofficial talks of Turkish and U.S. businessmen, and the Turkish state would not accept any proposal for changes to the country’s current GMO regulations.

The U.S. officials asked for some changes to Turkey’s GMO regulations to be able to penetrate more into the Turkish market with GMO products, according to Radikal’s report, which was based on sources speaking on the condition of anonymity.

According to the current bio-security law, which came into effect in 2010, those who grow or import GMO products are subject to a prison term of up to five years and a judicial fine.

Due to the current U.S. customs regulations, Turkey’s exporters struggle to export fresh fruits and vegetables to the U.S. market, Radikal wrote. As Turkish officials raised the issue during the talks last month, the U.S. party started raising their concerns about U.S. firms that aim to export GMO products to the Turkish market in return.

“Both countries are in different mindsets” regarding the GMO issue, said a senior official speaking to the daily on condition of anonymity. ” That is why there is not much development between countries regarding agricultural matters,” the source said.

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