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Turkey to enact new GMO regulations

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 A new regulation concerning the commercial use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, prepared under the law for biosafety, was announced in the Official Gazette on Friday.

According to the announcement, the regulation will become effective as of Sept. 26. 

The regulation by the Agriculture Ministry involves adjustments on a legal basis about applications for GMO sales, imports and exports, the evaluation of applications, decisions after the evaluation process, legal monitoring and control of the products launched in the market, the process of marketing to prevent consequences stemming from GMO use, as well as protecting human, animal and plant health in addition to environmental and biological variety.

The regulation also determines the rules to maintain well-controlled research for developmental or experimental purposes on GMOs to prevent the risks to the environment and organisms.

The enduring legal framework until the new regulation and the law for biosafety, which was prepared by the Agriculture Ministry in September 2009 in line with the comestibles law and which triggered a lasting controversy in public opinion, has been abolished with the ratification of the new regulation.

According to the previous regulation the Scientific Committee decided positively on imports of genetically modified bacteria to be used as an additive for animal food and ferment. 

Until the new regulation becomes effective, the old framework will apply to the use of GMOs in veterinary services, plant health and comestibles and animal food.

New regulation’s articles for imports and exports

According to the new regulation, the import of GMOs necessitates an official document prepared by the authorities of the source country or a chemical analysis from an internationally accredited laboratory. The regulation enables the ministry to carry our analyses aiming for control or supervision as only the products yielding positive results will be granted import permit.

The ministry will keep a record of these products as well as the firms importing them. This practice will also apply to the products imported without payment and used for public consumption.

The passage of GMOs through customs will be regulated by Customs Undersecretary. The import of GMOs used other than for comestibles and animal food production purposes will be carried out collaboratively by the related ministry and institutions. The import of products containing GMOs or GMO compounds will necessitate a prior authorization of the GMO content.

For exports, on the other hand, the procedure will go in line with the demands of the purchasing country and the ministry will keep record of the GMOs permitted to be exported. The transit passages will be carried out according to the terms and conditions of the ministry’s written permit and to Customs Law and passages will necessitate measures be taken to prevent GMO contamination in the environment, like sealing the transportation vehicles. The ministry will control and supervise whether the measures are taken and keep a record of the results.

New regulation’s articles for market launch

GMOs will be produced and stored according to indoor conditions and standards determined by the Scientific Committee and considering the risk classifications.

Provided that a products containing GMO or GMO compound is to be launched in the market after the authorization of the ministry, it will have to fulfill the necessities of the Turkish Food Codex and also the package of the product will visibly bear the inscription that the product contains GMO or is produced out of GMO compound.

In the event of violation of the terms of the regulation, or if new scientific data emerges about the potential risks of using GMOs and products with GMO content, the decision concerning the products may be canceled by the Scientific Committee and the products will be withdrawn from the market.

The regulation will be effective as of Sept. 26. In the event that the application process regarding the GMOs is not finished by then will be finalized according to the new regulation.