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Turks unite to save olive culture

Citizens of a small olive-producing town played a key role in defeating a government proposal to allow industrial development among Turkey's olive groves.

Beginning in early May, thousands of Turks signed petitions, participated in demonstrations and posted to social media in support of the campaign “Olives Are Life!” (Zeytin Hayattir!) The name and slogan belonged to the leading campaign, one of many, against a government proposal to amend a 1930s “olive law” and protect olive groves in the country. Faced with stiff opposition, the government withdrew the amendment on June 13. Turkey's olive lobby seems to have won the battle, at least for the time being.

Both political opposition and olive sector players considered the proposed bill, which would have allowed the construction of non-olive oil-related industrial facilities in olive groves to the possibly significant detriment of the groves and olive growers and their enterprises. Opponents had feared that the bill's passage would lead to the destruction and replacement of the groves with mines, industrial projects and housing schemes if they were deemed to be in the “public interest” despite causing serious damage to Turkey's olive oil production.

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