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Turkey Considers End to GM Import Ban

by 5m Editor
23 May 2011, at 8:47am

TURKEY - The outlook for Turkish grain imports is growing rapidly under the influence of growing demand and high internal grain prices, while the government is considering an end to the ban on genetically modified (GM) maize and co-products.

A US Grains Council (USGC) team confirmed this development in wide-ranging discussions with livestock industry representatives, feed millers and government officials from the Turkish Grain Board (TMO).

USGC Advisory Team member Keith Finney, North Dakota Corn Utilization Council, two USGC consultants and Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of international operations, discussed sorghum, corn, and distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) with Turkish officials and private sector representatives while in Turkey to provide DDGS education at Turkey's first ever broiler meat association conference.

Mr Cordero said: "The conference had overwhelming attendance, not just from Turkey but from the region. We also met with egg producers, feed millers, and the TMO, which has the power to import or export grain as needed to stabilise prices within Turkey."

Turkey needs one million metric tons of grain to cover demand at present and is struggling to find supplies because of its current ban on genetically modified imports.

Mr Cordero continued: "We had lots of conversations about biotech corn and corn co-products. By the end, both the Turkish government and the private sector had a better understanding of what biotechnology is all about. There's a great interest, especially in industry, in biotech access."

Turkey is said to be considering accepting corn with 21 current biotech events, although upcoming elections are likely to delay a decision for a number of months. An approval would open up market access for US corn and DDGS, though an existing 130 per cent tariff on corn would still be a barrier. USGC President and CEO Thomas C. Door reiterated these issues during a recent meeting in Washington with the chairman of the Turkish Parliament's Agricultural Committee.

Meanwhile, the Council team addressed Turkey's immediate needs by also promoting US sorghum as an alternative. Sorghum would not be affected by the current ban on biotech products.

Mr Cordero added: "We discussed how US sorghum can substitute for corn, that it's free of tannins and it's a high-quality feed ingredient, and the current price spread is around $15.00 per metric ton FOB value. If we have the opportunity to bring in one US product like sorghum, it's a way of opening the door for all US products."

Last week, TMO reportedly called an in-country meeting with industry principals for further discussions about possible sorghum purchases.