Turkish delegation visits U.S. to better understand the role of modern biotechnology

The U.S. Soybean Export Council, with support from the soy checkoff, recently hosted a delegation from Turkey - including U.S. Soy customers and government and industry representatives – helping them better understand modern biotechnology and its key role in food security and sustainable farming. Turkey is an important market for U.S. Soy; in the last marketing year it purchased 430,000MT of U.S. soybeans.

Sirri Kayhan, USSEC’s country representative in Turkey, said Turkey currently lacks an official biosafety board to follow the regulations, so modern biotechnology has not been widely adopted. The feed, poultry and crushing industries in Turkey have been urging the government to strengthen its work on biotechnology, which would also open up more opportunities for the use of GMO, using scientific research to support any decisions on the issue.

U.S. Soy customers from the feed and poultry industries and crusher companies were among the representatives on the visit, along with members of the Turkish government. During their tour, they were provided with briefings about the global policy toward modern technology and how they can maximize the expected benefits while minimizing the potential risks.

“Governments maximize the expected benefits of modern biotechnology for food security and sustainable farming by encouraging innovation through various policies and programs,” Kayhan said. “Minimizing potential risks is typically done through biosafety systems and regulations. The extent to which modern biotechnology can contribute to sustainable farming and food security depends to a large extent on the way in which biosafety regulations are designed and implemented.”

Kayhan said the tour of the U.S. allowed participants to learn about the scientific, technical, legal and economic aspects of biosafety regulations and their impacts, which could open up the potential introduction of strong biosafety regulations in Turkey.

During their trip, representatives made a number of stops, including:

  • The University of Missouri, which offers biotechnology studies
  • The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, an independent not-for-profit research institute focused on plant science, located in Saint Louis, Missouri
  • ADM, one of the world’s largest elevator companies
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • The U.S. Grains Council
  • Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

They also visited U.S. Soy farmers to see first-hand how they operate and their efforts in strengthening the sustainability of U.S. Soy.

“We hope that this trip helped them to understand the importance of biotechnology and its use in industries,” Kayhan said. “And we hope that the knowledge they gain from this trip will support their efforts and hopefully will be shared with the regulation makers who will then build strong regulations to help the agriculture, animal and feed industries in Turkey to grow.”

This article is partially funded by U.S. Soy farmers, their checkoff and the soy value chain.