For the Turkish poultry industry to fully prosper, the government must revise its legislation governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), delegates at the Third International Poultry Conference were told.

Law 5977 on biosafety is incoherent and inconsistent and neither compliant with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety nor with European Union (EU) standards, resulting in commercial uncertainty and holding the poultry and other industries back, said Professor Selim Cetiner, of the University of Ankara.

He continued that 18 million farmers worldwide are now using GMO technology and that a meta-analysis of economic studies had shown that, where GMOs are used, pesticide use has declined by 36.9 percent while farmers’ profitability has grown by 68.2 percent. Yet in Turkey, GMOs are still viewed as the “demon seed,” and the government has focused on prevention rather than regulation in its legislation.

Professor A Esat Karakaya, of Gazi University, Ankara, continued that since Turkey’s law on biosafety was enacted in 2009, both the feed and food industries have experienced problems and that, without change, these problems would continue.

Professor Cetiner explained that inconsistencies and gaps in the current legislation have resulted in imprisonments where only trace amounts of GMOs have been found in imports and the impounding of goods. Testing at ports is not accurate, he continued, and even genetically modified lentils have been found, despite no company marketing a genetically modified lentil variety.

The cost to Turkey of not implementing adequate legislation in line with international standards has been estimated at US$1 billion between 2009 and 2014.

“We are missing out on this technology, just as we missed out on the industrial revolution,” he said.