Spain: Are GMOs Halal?

Cordoba LOGO 125X125pp con colorCORDOBA, Spain, March 25, 2015. The first day of the Congress “Halal, A Global Concept”, taking place in Córdoba, has raised fundamental questions as if GMOs Halal are Halal or why Spain does not occupy a prominent place among Muslim tourists, announced on Wednesday its organizers.

The first panel of the Congress “The International Standardization of Halal Market” has already revealed one of the fundamental issues regarding GMOs. According to the round table moderator, Saim Kayadibi, Associate Professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), “anything that alters the nature of organisms or food, must be analysed or investigated”, before we can declare it Halal or Haram. Halal is defined as what is permitted to Muslims, whereas Haram is forbidden.

Morocco standard establishes that “GMOs are Halal as long as their origins are. This is what determines its Halal status”, indicated Abdelrrahim Taibi, CEO of IMANOR, the Moroccan Institute for Standardization. Mariam Abdul Latif, associate professor at the Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition of Malaysia has also defended this point. Mrs Abdul Latif, who was present at the conference room and whom the panel noted as a pioneer in the Halal standardization has also emphasized that following a rule “should be a choice. The sovereignty of States must be respected”. She also stated that standards should be developed considering that they have to be an impulse and not a brake on each country industry.

During the second panel of the day, “Halal tourism in Spain”, the speakers highlighted the country-wasted potential to attract this segment.
“Spain is the third most visited country in the world, we have an incomparable Islamic legacy and heritage, unique in Europe, and yet we are the ninth (destination among non-Muslim countries) behind countries like France or Belgium. We must be doing something wrong”, exposed Flora Sáez, the round table moderator and Development Director of Nur and Duha, the only Spanish travel agency certified Halal.

Besides, tourist figures may change depending on the sources and can lead to confusion. “When we speak about Muslim tourism in Spain, British or French Muslim tourists are not being counted. Neither those coming from countries not belonging to the Schengen Area and entering Spain by car from France, for example”, says Angela Castaño, Turespaña Head of Business Area and Special Interests.

About the ignorance that prevails around the Halal sector in Spain also spoke Juan Miguel Márquez, Director of ICEX Division of Institutional Cooperation who said to be surprised by the Halal industry figures.  

According to the consultant specialized in growth strategy in Halal economy Reem El Shafaki, senior associate of DinarStandard, there are three future trends in tourism: collaborative consumption or sharing economy, immersion and social responsibility. “In all of them, there is an opportunity for Muslim focused services”, said Mrs El Shafaki.

“The purpose of the Congress is to put our city (Córdoba) on the International Halal map, but also our country”, said Isabel Romero, Director of the Halal Institute, the main promoter of the event, and President of the Spanish Islamic Council (Junta Islámica).

The current Halal market supposes 1,600 million potential customers. There are now over 300 Halal certified companies in Spain, which produce over 500 different products.