Three arrested over GMO rice in southern Turkey

Three arrested over GMO rice in southern Turkey

MERSİN - Anatolia News Agency
Three arrested over GMO rice in southern Turkey

The United States is one of the biggest GMO producers in the world. Hürriyet photo

Six people were arrested on April 9 over links to 21,000 tons of genetically modified organism (GMO) rice seized in the southern province of Mersin, after eight people had been detained earlier in the day.

The detainees, including Tat Bakliyat officials, were handed over to the Customs Guard Directorate in accordance with the ongoing probe.

Tat president Şerafettin Memiş; his brother Nasip Memiş; and the company’s customs director, Ali Sevim, were arrested by the court.

The Consumer Rights Association (TDH) claimed on April 5 that several different GMO products that jeopardize people’s health were being imported as the companies involved in the 21,000-ton seizure of GMO rice denied the allegations.

Turkey’s Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry quickly responded to the reports in a press statement that dismissed allegations of any GMO food entering the country.

“Our ministry does not allow the use of GMOs in food,” the statement read. “No trace of GMOs was detected in rice in any of our inspections.”

The ministry also said that GMOs in rice had never been “the subject of international trade.”

Tat Bakliyat, one of three companies – including Tiryaki Agro Gıda and Göze Tarım – whose imported rice was seized due to GMO allegations, said testing showed that GMOs were found in only four parts in 10,000 of the rice and it was caused by soya bean traces that entered the goods during transport.

Turkey imported officially and legally goods like soya bean, soya oil, corn, cotton and rice worth more than $12 billion from producer countries between 2008 and 2012, said THD in a statement. Turkey imported $6 billion of these goods from the United States, one of the biggest GMO producers in the world.

Investigations into the issue are ongoing.