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CHEESEMAKERS: COMPANY’S GMO COMMITMENT SENDS RIPPLES UP THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Among the nearly 1,000 attendees at the American Cheese Society’s annual conference in Sacramento last week, the name “Mateo” required no last name, no qualifier. Mateo Kehler isn’t merely a leader in the American artisan cheese renaissance; he’s also knee-deep in the nation’s curdling fight over GMO labeling. He’s based in Vermont, the first state in the nation to pass a GMO labeling law. For now, the law excludes dairy products, pending a report by Attorney General Bill Sorrell due in January 2015.

The dairy cows that Kehler depends upon to make cheeses like his bark-wrapped Harbison, buttery Alpha Tolman and gooey washed-rind Winnamere are not genetically modified. However, a small part of their feed comes from genetically engineered corn. For the moment, that’s not an issue in Kehler’s home state, but he says it’s a looming worry.

Indeed, Whole Foods, which last year became the first national chain to set a deadline – of 2018 – for full GMO transparency.

The company is also going beyond transparency and, in some categories, expressing a clear preference for GMO-free products. President and COO AC Gallo writes, “We are going beyond finished packaged products with a focus on meat, dairy, eggs and fish. To be labeled as non-GMO or organic, animals providing these products must be fed non-GMO or organic feed.”

As the largest specialty cheese retailer in the nation, Whole Foods’decision casts a long shadow across the industry. For producers who want to continue selling their products there, the scramble to source non-GMO ingredients is heating up.

The company’s standards are still developing, but by 2018, its producers will have to label products made from GMO ingredients – including dairy and meat products derived from livestock fed with genetically engineered crops. Kehler explains that this could be an insurmountable supply-chain problem. “There isn’t a large supply of non-GMO grain,” he says.

“In Vermont, there’s one mill that supplies it and they’re not taking customers. We’re on a waiting list,” he says.

 

The gLAWcal Team

LIBEAC project

Thursday, 7 August 2014

(Source: the Guardian)

This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.