NO CHANCE TO FOOD CRISIS

Science will not give opportunity to food crisis

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  • Prof. Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz

    Nazimi Açıkgöz graduated from Ankara University in 1964 and earned his Ph D. degree at Munich Technical University in 1972. He then joined Ege University and worked there until his retirement in 2009. His rice breeding studies was supported by CENTO, NATO, IAEA and TUBITAK and at the end, a rice variety “TOAG92" was registered. His studies on computer use in agriculture were on seed database management system and bioistatistics. One of his packages TARIST (Agrostatistics) is still the only Turkish software in this area. He is one of the founders of the “Seed Center” at Ege University, which has been directed between 1998-2004 by him. He is now a freelance writer and moderating a Turkish portal “gelecekteki gıdalarımız” (our future foods, https://nazimiacikgoz.wordpress.com) whichs papers are republished in numbers of journals and portals. He writes also blogs in Turkish newspapers Milliyet (http://blog.milliyet.com.tr/gidakrizivebilim) and Radikal (http://blog.radikal.com.tr/Sayfa/dunyada-tohumculuk-nasil-destekleniyor-21195) (nazimi.acikgoz@gmail.com)

A HIDDEN HERO OF WORLD AGRICULTURE ECONOMY: CGIAR

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 14/07/2014

Intellectuals unfortunately are dwelling upon two very important issues, agricultural and food, which concern our future highly.  On the other hand the press does seem to not show any necessary attention either. How many of us can answer these questions “How the doubled world population from 1960 to 2010 have been fed”?  How much do we know about CGIAR, who is struggling with its whole facilities to overcome hunge1960 2010yieldsr crisis in future, in shrinking cultivated area, climate change, increasing population conditions? Some of us may be familiar with IRRI (International Rice Research Institute Philippines), (golden rice adventure!) or CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico). There are total 15 similar agricultural research institutes gathered under CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) umbrella.  Its researchers did not only increased world wheat yield from 100 kg/da (in 1960) to 300 kg/da in 2010, but they also brought one Nobel and numerous World Food Prize to their agricultural research community. They have developed new varieties for almost all agricultural ecologies and determined their agronomic parameters like water, fertilizers and pesticides. Three-fold yield increase of wheat, within the last 50 years is “GREEN REVALUATION’s” result, could be applied to all crops. Behind such success, there was a hidden hero: little-known CGIAR.

Each of the above-mentioned 15 institutes focused on either specific agro ecological zones and/or main culture plants like wheat, rice, and potato. For example, ICRISAT, in Hyderabad (India) focused on breeding and cultivation techniques of non-irrigated plants, like sorghum. IITA is operating since 1967 in Ibadan, (Niger-Africa) entirely with crops grown in tropical conditions. CIP (Centro Internacional de la Papa – International Potato Center) in Lima, Peru undertake research on potato. International Food Policy Research Institute – IFPRI, one of CGIAR institute founded in Washington, is working on economics and politics of food and agriculture.

CGIAR has a specific financial support system, regulated by FUND COUNCIL, which arrange currency flow from fund donors.  Countries, NGO’s, banks, foundation may be a fund donor (with a minimum of USD 100,000 a year), if they can be qualified by the FUND COUNCIL. Fund donors may decide to orient their contribution toward a specific institute or research them. Allocations of funds to institute are arranged by CGIAR Consortium, who also develop, manage and monitor research programs run by its institute.

Organization is particularly keen to protect the biodiversity.  Almost 710.000 accessions have been preserved in its partners 11 gene banks. Additionally CGIAR institutes maintaining germplasm, particularly seeds (including multiplication) of culture plants for Svalbard Global Seed Bank (Norway). New varieties, improved by its institutions are also free of plant breeding right.

CGIAR’s institutes are also focused along with many other organizations to “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Safety” project. As the necessity of fight with “Hidden hunger” comes into question, FAO and WHO have consulted to CGIAR for the solution. Biological enrichment (BIOFORTIFIDE) of local varieties with vitamin and/or mineral through classical plant breeding techniques was the answer. Upon some financial and scientific debate, CGIAR has started with “HarvestPlus Challenge[1]” program. CGIAR began the international “HarvestPlus Challenge” program in 2004 and has been improved within the unexpected short time numbers of desired new varieties. For example, in Congo vitamin A-enriched cassava and enriched bean varieties, in Zambia vitamin-enriched corn varieties, in India iron-enriched millet and zinc-enriched rice varieties, in Uganda and Mozambique vitamin A enriched sweet potato varieties, in Bangladesh zinc-enriched rice varieties have been registered. In India and Pakistan registration of zinc-enriched wheat varieties are expected in year 2014.

But some of the CGIAR institutes are not performing in peaceful atmosphere. According to SciDev.Net[2] news, armed Syrian rebel groups have occupied the main research station and headquarters of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) near Aleppo in Syria. The armed groups are taking the majority of the harvested crops, grown in the centre’s research farm in Aleppo. Groups keep changing, and it cause difficulties for the local staff. Any arrangement or agreement they make with one group, may not be recognized by another one. In 2012, after damage to some of ICARDA’s property near its head office in Syria, the organization has gradually relocated its expatriate staff to Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkey for safety and continuation of organizations operations out of Syria.

CGIAR and its institute with such a humanitarian activity, does not deserve such an unexpected transaction[3]!

Nazimi Açıkgöz

 

 

[1]http://www.cgiar.org/our-research/challenge-programs/harvestplus/

[2]http://m.scidev.net/global/r-d/news/syria-s-icarda-falls-to-rebels-but-research-goes-on.html

[3]This article is summarized from a Turkish analyze, published in https://nazimiacikgoz.wordpress.com with the same title.

 

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SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS OF MALNUTRITION

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 14/04/2014

Malnutrition is defined as undernutrition, micro-nutrient deficiency and overweight. Unfortunately, it causes high economic and social costs to society in almost every country.  According to FAO’s latest estimates, 12.5 percent (868 million people) of the global population is undernourished. Still, 26 percent of the world’s children have child growth retardation (stunting); 2 billion people suffer from one or several microMalnutrition1-nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, 1.4 billion people are overweight, including the 500 million who classify as obese. All these nutritional disorders, with more than one form, can be found in every country. A small table has been arranged with a few samples to clarify the importance of nutritional disorders in the world (see Table). Some countries are suffering terribly from child stunting (an indicator of undernutrition), whereas others struggle with iodine deficiency or anemia (often caused by iron deficiency, increases the risk of women dying in childbirth). Iron is an essential metal micronutrient for human health; its deficiency in the human diet contributes to high rates of mortality in developing countries. More than 125 million children under five years of age suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in the world. More than half of the children who lose their sight because of VAD die within a year. The above table shows how high the VAD is in developing countries. Iodine is another essential, a non-metal micronutrient for human health (its deficiency impairs thyroid functions). When severe deficiency occurs, fetal development can be affected with consequent irreversible brain damage and mental retardation. Interestingly, iodine deficiency seems to be an overlooked issue in the developed world.

Malnutrition may affect economic development by limiting productivity and human capital accumulation. The decline in productivity beyond the social cost of malnutrition and treatment expenditures is equal to 5% of the annual world gross national product (GNP) 3.5 trillion US$ (equal to 500 US$ per capita). The full breakdown of the amount in question has been estimated in 2010 as 1.4 trillion US$ globally, which includes the risk factors of overweight and obesity.

Studies show that reduction of such malnutrition disorders is economically possible. Research results from Ethiopia, India and Nigeria show that every US$1 invested in reducing child stunting generates between $12 and $34 in economic returns[1].

To reduce the cost involved and to provide better nutrition food systems, the solution begins with agriculture. It is, beyond being a source of livelihood, a source for food production. Therefore agriculture is the most significant sector to minimize eating disorders. Bio-fortification is possible in every stage ranging from production, processing, storage, and transport to marketing. So beside the pharmaceutical and food industries, agriculture could also serve to enrich food in some cases, with the insertion of micro-nutrient genes into regarded plant genomes and it would be affordable, especially in developing countries. Actually, the lack of trace elements had been covered by currently commercialized new genotypes in a few food sources, like fatty acid omega-3 enriched rapeseed, antioxidant enriched likopen tomato and folic acid increased lettuce.

The importance of the subject brought the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization and the CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) together as the top organizations on this issue, to step up to a more serious level of cooperation in 2004. Starting an international program, namely the “HarvestPlus Challenge”, they have begun with classical plant breeding and transferred genes into the most consumed local plants which did not contain enough vitamins or micronutrients. New genotypes were able to store vitamin or micro-elements in plant leaves, roots and seeds. Let’s take a look at some of the newly commercialized cultivars in some countries:

  • In 2011, vitamin A-enriched cassava varieties in the Congo;
  • In 2012, iron-enriched bean varieties in the Congo;
  • In 2012, vitamin A-enriched maize varieties in Zambia;
  • In 2012, iron-enriched maize varieties in India;
  • In 2007, agricultural vitamin A-enriched sweet potato varieties in Uganda and Mozambique;
  • In 2013, zinc-enriched rice in India and Bangladesh;
  • In 2013, zinc-enriched wheat cultivars in India and Pakistan.

Not every plant has a donor genotype to be enriched with the above mentioned items. So to enrich the rice plants with vitamin A, biotechnology stepped in. The globally recognized GOLDEN RICE project was started in1999. The different forms of Golden Rice contain between 1.6 and 35 µg β-carotene per gram of rice. A recent study with children has shown that the bio-availability of pro-vitamin A from Golden Rice is as effective as pure β-carotene in oil, and far better than spinach in providing vitamin A to children. A daily intake of 60 g of rice (half a cup) would provide about 60 per cent of the Chinese Recommended Nutrient Intake of vitamin A for 6–8-year-old children and be sufficient to prevent vitamin A malnutrition[2]. But it has been blocked by some GOLDEN RICE opponent group, so it has not yet reached to farmers’ field. Economic evaluation of such delay has been estimated with a mathematical model by two scientists (Wesseler J. And D. Zilberman 2014)[3] in a peer reviewed article (The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition) and come to a remarkable conclusion: “Despite Golden Rice being available since early 2000, this rice has not been introduced in any other country. Governments must recognize additional costs that over-compensate the benefits of th
e technology to explain the delay in approval… The model has been applied to the case of India. Results show the annual perceived costs have to be at least US$199 million per year approximately for the last decade to explain the delay in approval of the technology. This is an indicator of the economic power of the opposition towards Golden Rice resulting in about 1.4 million life years lost over the past decade in India”.

Agriculture can create more than we, the global population receives today. Not only is this true with routine food, but also in terms of bio-fortified products that the global population will need in the future. We have to improve agricultural research strategies to create more sustainable production systems. Orienting existing manpower to agricultural research and giving political priority to agricultural research should be considered an important issue for policymakers.

Prof. Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz

 

[1] http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/gfpr2013_ch05.pdf

[2]Tang G, Hu Y, Yin S, Wang Y, Dallal GE, Grusak MA & Russell RM (2012). ß-carotene in GE ‘Golden’ rice is as good as ß-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96: 658-664.

[3] Wesseler J. And D. Zilberman (2014). The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition,  http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=9136417&jid=EDE&volumeId=-1&issueId=-1&aid=9136416&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societ

 

 

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AS EU RENEWING ITS SEED LEGISLATION: NOT SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 30/11/2013

Developments in recent years in environment, biodiversity, nutritional values of foods and climate change lead EU to rethink on food safety and security and they have been found strategically important. Actually a sector with €750 billion turnover annually (just value of crops grown in the EU is €205 billion) and 48 million employees de serves such an attempt, especially in a harsh competition condition of the new agri-food market.

Seed%3

Therefore European Commission is adopting a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain (more detail).   Commission’s main objective is preparation of landmark package to modernize simplify and strengthen EU’s food issue with a slogan “Smarter rules for safer food”. Number of existing regulation on these theme are 70 and commission is going to reduce it 

to 5. One of this will be on “SEED” which will be converted as expression to “PLANT REPRODUCTİVE MATERIAL” (PRM). Actually 12 basic Council Directives had been developed by EU on seed since the 1960s. They were on authorization for specific marketing requirements for different species like cereal, beet, and fiber plant etc. seeds (more detail).

Again, such attempts aim to keep EU competitive in global agri-food market. The other important objectives are: To assure the health andhigh quality of PRM; to provide a single regulatory framework to support sustainable production, biodiversity, adaptation to climate change and to contribute to food security and poverty alleviation, to ensure a level playing field through simplified, harmonized rules, to reduce unnecessary costs and administrative burden and increase flexibility (yearly total variety registration cost €60-70 million), to align PRM legislation with other recent Union strategies, to foster market access for innovation in plant breeding.  On the other hand council is waiting with the new law a system change in order to be fit for the changing economic, environmental, social, scientific circumstances, simplification of the basic legal acts (from 12 Directives to one Regulation), cost recovery and improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of the system, horizontal coordination with recent, already adopted EU policies.

One of the other targets is encouraging SMEs and micro-enterprises, especially in order to ensure access for these enterprises to public services for the execution of certain tasks they cannot perform themselves and to support and further develop their flexibility to gain improved access to the PRM market. THERE you may think: Did EU enough to provide necessary genetic material, line to small holder seed firms by its public services? How EU public agricultural institution harmonizing? Couldn’t be a Europe wide coordinated agricultural research established? What does USA do in this respect? What was the purpose of assigning one of public body for each cultivated plant responsibility? What is doing BRIC countries for plant breeding? How universities have been not left beside for such important issue? Why in one of the sub a committee of D20’s is suggested: “agricultural research should gain priorities”? 

Now back to the title: The main target is competing in agri-food market. The world seed market value was around $US 50 billion in 2011. $US 37 billion (%74) was commercial and the rest (%26) was for producer’s own use (non-commercial seed). %26 of total amount namely 13,2  $US billion belongs to transgenic seed, whereas %48 is standard seed (see figure). It may be assumed that %36 of commercial seed is bioengineered one. Expanding transgenic crop areas yearly %10 has reached it to 170 million hectare in 2013. It means that transgenic seed demand will increase as well, whereas no one EU citizen producer will not benefit of its plusses at all. Oppositely they will lose their customers. Looses, rising due to not accepting GMO’s in EU has been documented clearly in a Turkish blog  with figures. Unavoidably one may say: EU could not see the forest for the tree!

EASAC (European Academies Science Advisory Council) suggests that “a radical reform of GMO legislation is now warranted. The slow and unpredictable pace of GM crop regulatory approval and commercialization is harming European research and development both private and public. This is weakening the capacity of the EU to develop solutions for its own agricultural needs and to tackle global challenges. Instead of exporting advanced seed and new agricultural technologies the EU is, in effect, exporting qualified researchers. The aim must be to redirect its focus from technology to product regulation as a goal, and to risk–benefit rather than risk alone”.

EU should follow BRIC countries closely in bioeconomic investments. How intensive did they invest to biotechnology can be observed here. Late attack of Russia has started in 2012 with Putin’s announcement: 200 billion ruble for agri-food biotechnology research for the period of 2012-2020[1]

Nazimi Açıkgöz

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REORIENTATION NEED OF AGRICULTURAL INVESTMENTS (republication from http://nacikgoz.blogactiv.eu/)

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 16/10/2013

Recent unforeseen developments in world geography and expected demographic realities lead almost everyone to ask each other: “when will we be experiencing food crises?” Lately increasing climate change stories come to the point: S. Arabia has decided to stop up 2015 to grow one of the main crop (wheat) due to drought. On the other hand cultivated land area is not changing significantly but number of people fed per hectare will be almost tripled from the year 1960 to 2020 (Figure).no people hHa3

Global warming is not the only threat for tomorrow’s food crisis. Wealth increase causes change of patterns on consumption and rise demand for food. Crops for biofuel and non food products will need additional land. So far smallholder-farming shrinks considerably, who will fill in the lack of growing food, feed and biofuel plants?

Smallholder-farmers are going to give up farming and migrate to the cities steadily, but it has been accelerated in recent years. Additionally, some experts claiming that, lately up to 50 million “environmental refugees” will have to leave their lands due to the dramatically negative effects of climate change. (http://www.ifpri.org/blog/challenging-environmental-migration-myth). This occurs intensively in developing countries whereas the values of cultivated land in some of EU countries are doubled within one decade.

In all countries there are numbers of potential private or institutional investors, seeking a secure instrument for their own future. It is not secret that, agriculture is one of the most attractive instruments for investing. Otherwise over 200 million hectare cultivated land wouldn’t be handed over within last decade.

With the shrink of small farming communities, the amount of non-cultivated agricultural lands has been increasing. Small farming communities and unknown potential investors are the two that need to be matched for the future of our tomorrow’s food security.

 

European’s young potential private or institutional investors may not be aware of such alternative investment options. Thinking European successful agricultural investors in Asia, Africa and L. America and their role of being a school for local producers, we have to reactivate this for tomorrow’s food as well. So later, local farmers with gained experience guaranty the further agricultural production.

 

Let’s go through an example: Turkish young farmers are immigrating to the cities and almost one tenth of Turkish cultivated lands are simply left and waiting for cultivation. However increasing demand for organic products is one of other opportunities for Turkey, because soils are more suitable for organic agriculture compared to EU countries. Greenhouse and hydroponic farming are applicable throughout the country and are expandable. Existing 5,5 million hectare irrigable area will be 8,5 hectare in future. The export value of agricultural products is over $ 17 billion, but on the other hand, Turkey is importing almost $14 billion agricultural goods. Just only in the year 2010 the import of some fruit like walnut and almond was almost $270 million. Just in the year 2010 import of some fruit like walnut and almond was almost 270 million $US, as if their cultivation is not possible almost in every corner in Turkey. Many alternatives of existing production systems are promising further competitive investments like dwarf apple orchards, vineyard etc. Production of new culture plants from subtopic like kiwi and avocado seems to be quite promising. Such products have been accepted by local consumers rapidly Number of foreign investors has been doubled within last few years in fishing sector. New regulations for ethanol and biodiesel from local agricultural products will facilitate new production area, like MISCANTUS[2]. Animal husbandry needs reforms to compete with the world market, but with family farms it doesn’t seems financially realistic due to not being able to reach to optimum herd size.

 

More or less every developing economy is in the same situation. Some of EU countries farming system are not differing either. There are numbers of impressive investment area in land, waiting investors to food production. We should support farming with all economic, social and scientific aspects to keep it for sustainable food production. To achieve this target we should increase public awareness.

 

 

Nazimi Açıkgöz


[2] It is a large perennial grass hybrid currently used in the EU as a commercial energy crop

 

 

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WE HAVE TO SITUMULATE INVESTMENTS TO AGRICULTURE

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 12/09/2013

In all countries there are numbers of potential investors, seeking a secure instrument for their own future. It is not secret that, agriculture is one of the most attractive instruments for investing. Otherwise over 200 million hectare cultivated land wouldn’t hand-over within last ten years. It is to be expected that, in the coming years, we will observe large increases in the rates of agricultural investments. But rapid shrinking rate of small farming communities force all Stakeholders to stimulate agricultural investments. There are many reasons to invite possible investors to food production. Let’s go through Turkish agriculture:

  1.  NEEDS:  

Balıkcılıkta Y. SermayeJ

 

  • Increasing population trend illustrate that, food requirement will never go backward;
  • Increases daily calorie consumption, awareness on health and food and increasing income will give the opportunity for consumption of more and different food items;
  • This is true not only for regional but also global populations;

2. OPORTUNUTY:

  • Small farms cannot compete with the modern production systems;
  • Due to immigration to cities, especially young farmers, numbers of agricultural areas are empty and uncultivated, available for further investments. New regulation in Turkey states that support to agriculture won’t be below  % 0,1 of GNP;
  • Scattered supermarkets and increased number of exporters are working on contract basis for food products in every corner of Turkey;
  • Greenhouse and soilless culture farming are applicable throughout all Turkey;
  • Increasing demand for organic products is one of other opportunity for Turkey, because her soils are more suitable for organic agriculture than  EU countries;
  • Such a broad agricultural production systems require more sophisticated equipment and they need newer agro-industrial investments;
  • Existing 5,5 million hectare irrigable area will be 8,5 hectare in future;
  • Turkey’s import of some fruit like walnut and almond was almost 270 million $US in the year of 2010. Although walnuts cultivation is possible almost in every corner in Turkey;
  •  Many alternatives of existing production systems are promising further competitive investments like dwarf apple orchards;

3 EXAMPLES

There are almost numbers of impressive investment area in almost all of the sub-sectors to invite possible investors to food production:

  • Production of new culture plants like kiwi and avocado seems to be quite promising. Such products have been accepted by consumers rapidly;
  • Number of foreign investors have has been doubled within last few years (Chart) in fishing sector;
  • Application of second-crop production system in the northern part of Turkey has been started;
  • Number of enterprise having more than 100 herds in the year of 2005, has been doubled within five years;
  • Like poplar cultivation there are many facilities in existing (2,5 million hectare) empty cultivated land;
  • Public subsidies are about %27 in the year 2011, but international relations might increase the chance of having more supports for agriculture;
  • New regulations for ethanol and biodiesel from local agricultural products will facilitate new production area, like MISCANTUS[1]


We should support farming with all economic, social and scientific aspects to keep them for sustainable food cultivation.

Prof. Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz


[1] It is a large perennial grass hybrid currently used in the EU as a commercial energy crop

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TURKISH SEED INDUSTRY IS IN NEED OF NEW STRATEGIES!

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 27/07/2013

After economic liberalization in Turkey during 1980’s, seed industry has changed rapidly and harmonized with world seed market. Meanwhile ecological advantages of Turkey f

Trseed

or seed production have been evaluated positively and hybrid seed production for EU countries by multinational seed companies, especially for corn and sunflower, is continuing. On the other hand, vegetable seed imports are also rising due to increased demands for export of greenhouse vegetable products (Agricultural export reached to 17 $US billion in the year 2012) . Turkey’s 24 and 3 million ha agricultural and horticultural crop areas respectively are enough for a serious market for seed sector. Ultimately with her booming agricultural economy Turkey has jumped to 8th in the world and first range in Europe.  But its seed business seems not to reach such positions, because sector has not planned or projected to world seed schema.  Turkey’s domestic seed market is in the list of selected countries is 11th (see in the table)  whereas in seed exporters list 26th.The main reasons are:

  • Non existence of plant breeding firms,
  • Not yet started seriously incorporating attempt universities man power to genetic material improvement activities,
  • Lack of institutionalization of new and small seed firms,
  • Lack of awareness of taking advantage of adviser system,
  • Competition with public seed enterprise (TIGEM)[1],
  • Lack of capital for R&D, etc.

 

Urgency of reorganization of seed and plant breeding organization for Turkey can be easily understood from the ratio of unit prizes of imported and exported vegetable seeds as 1:8. This means that Turkey will be continuing to pay royalties in many categories, if she won’t breed its own genetic material for her seed companies (Açıkgöz 2011)[2]. Actually it is valid for every country. Prior to the International Plant Breeding Congress in Antalya, Turkey on November 10 – 14, 2013 (http://www.intpbc.org/) it is hoped that plant breeding organization for some countries will receive a serious consideration.

A national attempt to establish a frame institution for R&D, namely gen – genome – line improvement activities with participation of all stakeholders seems to be a practical solution. Brazilian experience EMBRAPA (http://www.agricultureandfoodsecurity.com/content/1/1/4) is a good example, where public and private institutions including universities gathered under one umbrella. EMBRAPA has undersigned bilateral agreement with 89 institutions in 56 countries.  Or German application GABI (The German Plant Genome Research Program, http://www.gabi-kat.de/newsahistory/donation-to-nasc.html), which take order for the desired gene-lines might be a model for Turkish seed industry.

Turkey has regulated almost all basic seed themes routinely, including plant breeding rights. Over 550 seed companies taking responsibility to cover seed demand of farmers. Some of them doing their breeding work in limited extent with their existing experts. Moreover few seed companies have over 20 R&D experts. But who will provide new varieties-lines-gens for the rest of seed companies without breeding infrastructure?  Assuming that almost for every culture plant an increasing number of new varieties expected. Climate change force plant breeders to work hard, but they need also support publicly. The necessity of new gen material – line will be double more for future. Today frozen industrialist claiming from not finding any suitable cultivar of some vegetable species. It is a little harsh to confess that number of vegetable genetic material contribution to seed market from universities is not as expected.  Therefore an EMPRAPA like institution seems to be the most impact on Turkish seed business. Considering its international seed related connection, Turkey not just deserve such body but also have to establish it. Seed related NGO’s should take possession of such strategic and politic subjects immediately. Because their members will get the most benefit of the end effect.

Importance of gen is well known in the seed world. Pakistan has bought a gen end provided freely to its cotton seed companies. Brazil has ordered a soya cultivar to a multinational firm for its national seed firms.

Prof. Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz


[1] TIGEM: General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprise is a seed suppliers of the public sector.

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Turkey Has To Import GMO Products As Raw Feed Material

Posted by Nazimi Acikgoz on 27/07/2013

Turkey consumes about four million tons of corn yearly, periodically covers it with domestic production. Some years amount of imported commodity is as much as the yearly corn harvest. It is proven fact that improvement in meet production causes import of feed material. Turkey’s annual export value of agricultural products has reached to 14 billion US$ lately, in which contribution of animal products is not negligible. Imported raw feed material consists of soybean and corn, which are not segregated as transgenic or non-transgenic during harvesting and/or storage. Some biotechnology opponents are against such commercial business without any scientific evidence. Their attitude was clearly observed during the period Turkey has been struggling to adopt the “National Biosafety Law”. At the same time their mentor countries from EC countries are importing, consuming and now planting transgenics like Sweden, Germany (potato) and Spain (corn – over 10 years). Growing food price may put genetically modified (GM) food on the menu.

More than 90% soybean produced by Argentine is transgenic. Also more than 70% of corn production in the USA is biotech. Both the 5% or 20% refuge and main area products respectively are harvested together without segregation. What are the main advantages of transgenics? In Argentine transgenic soybean varieties (Roundup Ready) with combination of no-till system facilitate growing the second crop after wheat in the year in the same field. So this country gains simply many million hectare “additional” agricultural area. How can one underestimate such a success? In no-till system you do not control weeds by tillage, hand weeding, and herbicides. It means that crops can be ready before early autumn colds. Since weeds are still on the field fighting them efficiently is only possible through the use of herbicide-tolerant crops (Glyphosate and Glufosinate ammonium Herbicide Tolerant Plants). Such application offers huge economic effect and transgenic soybean is almost 30% cheaper than conventional crop.

Added value of transgenic crops is so attractive that yearly increase in area planted with them was never less than 9%, and reached 170 M hectares in 2012 (Clive James, 2013). Additional profit coming with transgenics is divided between farmers and consumers, patent owners in shares depending on the crop and market conditions.

Surplus value from transgenics in 15 years reached almost 34 billion US$ globally. Naturally main share of this amount is going to the growers. Economic advantage of biotech crops is facilitating such a competition power that some non-growing countries have started to cut down acreages of those crops. For example Turkish cotton areas dropped by 50% in 2009, because cotton bale had been offered for half price, Izmir delivery, in the previous year.

So why do not Turkish farmers, Turkish economy benefit from such an attractive biotechnology achievement? Why Aegean farmers can not apply second crop (corn) farming? Because existing corn cultivars are sensitive to the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and restriction in areal fumigation does not allow growing it. Though at least 100.000 hectare of Bt corn could have been grown in case our biosafety regulations allow growing any GMO corn cultivar in Turkey. Besides that importing of GM raw feed material is the object for protests from the opponents. Lack of information or misinformation seems to hinder people from think objectively and globally. That explains why they are against importing GMO products as raw feed row material. Who are they working for?

 Prof. Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz 

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