A report on the food and agricultural exports from Turkey to the European Union published by Bianet on Tuesday found that 25% of all products were unsuitable for consumption and 20% were contaminated by pesticides banned by the EU.
The author of the report, food engineer and safety advocate Bulent Sik, said that he found that Turkish food exports contain pesticides that are banned across Europe and even Turkey. He came to this conclusion after closely analyzing the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) records of the past two years. Sik said that the bloc itself had also detected 13 more banned substances in the exports.
Chlorpyrifos ethyl, which impairs the nervous system and cognitive development in children, has been banned in both Turkey and the EU for years, despite still being used by Turkish food manufacturers.
“Ban orders for some of these pesticides are 10 years old, but the question remains: Why have they not been called back? If they have, how can they still be in use? Of course that is, if the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has an answer to give,” Sik wrote.
Sik further explained that the substances had gone through lengthy procedures to determine their harmful effects on both the human body and animals and insects and that the pesticides had been banned–some for decades– as a result. Such chemicals were thus required to be removed from the market, but their continued circulation amongst Turkish exports proved that this was not the case.
Report finds no explanation for the continued presence of banned pesticides in Turkey’s exports
Sik says that bans and the evidence that supports them make the presence of these chemicals in Turkey inexcusable and warrant further questioning into why they continue to be used throughout the country.
“Why is chlorpyrifos, which has been banned in EU countries for years because it harms the nervous system and cognitive development of children, is still used in Turkey?” he writes in a scathing conclusion.
“Although it is stated that studies are carried out in the process of permitting the use of a pesticide for determining whether it is harmful to human and environmental health and various living species, both the extent of these studies and their ability to determine possible risks are very limited. Therefore, there are many pesticides that were offered to the market with the claim that they were safe, they had been used for decades and they were banned when it was understood that they were extremely harmful.”
“The use of a pesticide can be prohibited if it is determined that it is carcinogenic (causing cancer), mutagenic (causing mutation in genes) or genotoxic (having a toxic effect on genes), or it is understood that it damages the hormonal system, that it does not use its poisonous effect in nature for a long period, or that it is harmful to birds or aerial insects and such reasons.”