World Bulletin/News Desk
There is no genetically modified rice that is being traded in the world and there is none in Turkey, Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister Mehdi Eker firmly stated on Thursday.
Eker, who was attending the Expo fair in Antalya on Thursday, responded to questions from the press regarding allegations that first emerged on April 10 that rice with genetically modified content was seized at a customs department.
“It is possible that there could be a spread, perhaps through pulverization on a rice husk, but this does not mean the rice itself is genetically modified.”
He said the İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ), which in a report said that GMOs were detected in rice seized at the border, was guilty of releasing an erroneous report. He said İTÜ later announced that the report was invalid, and even the individual in charge of the report was suspended indefinitely.
He said food is not an ordinary issue and told the press that publishing reports on unconfirmed results and unofficial reports is dangerous. Eker said: “I want the public to understand three points.
First, genetically modified food production has not been allowed in Turkey and it is still not being allowed. Second, its import is also not allowed. Third, and most importantly, our inspections on this are very strict. There is no reason for our citizens to be concerned in any way.”
Eker's remarks came hours after a group of Greenpeace members gathered in front of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to protest the alleged GMO presence in the rice seized in April. The group opened up stands used by street vendors in Turkey who sell rice, with signs that read “Rice with GMOs.”
The activists were stopped by police officers and ministry security. Group members also said the İTÜ's backpedalling on its report was a crime and a direct attempt at influencing any court trial that might arise as a result of the rice seized in April.