Mlekarna Celeia becomes the first to hold a GMO-free certificate

The Mlekarna Celeia dairy boasts a tradition of over 70 years and is the first Slovenian food producer to be awarded the “GMO-free – free from genetically modified organisms”© certificate.

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Darko Beci, Jožica Zajc, Marjan Jakob, Marina Koren Dvoršak,
dr. Martina Bavec, Anamarija Slabe

Yesterday Mlekarna Celeia hosted a round table entitled “Genetically modified organisms in Slovenia: yes or no?” where experts and government representatives unanimously established that Slovenia does not want or need genetically modified organisms. On the occasion Mlekarna Celeia informed the public that it is the first and so far the only Slovenian food producer to hold the “GMO-free – free from genetically modified organisms” certificate awarded by the Institute for Control and Certification (IKC) of the University of Maribor.

Only the best for our customers

“This is a huge step forward and at the same time a promise that we will continue to provide our customers with only the best nature has to offer. The certification scheme includes all of our 1,220 producers of milk, 17 agricultural co-operatives and five feed mixing plants. All ZELENE DOLINE products are free from genetically modified organisms and bear the ‘GMO-free’ mark,” said Marjan Jakob, the General Manager of Mlekarna Celeia, on the occasion.

Problematic feed for dairy cows

Martina Bavec, PhD, Acting Director of the Agricultural Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, highlighted that “the key problem with food products of animal origin, including milk production, is the questionable purchasing of additional feed for dairy cows. The feed mainly consists of imported soybeans and corn which are the most commonly genetically modified plants in the world. The feed for animals which is purchased in Slovenia often contains genetically modified organisms and it is therefore necessary, especially in milk production, to exercise control already at the source, i.e. with the feed and feed mixtures and also during the production of feed on farms”.

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Marjan Jakob, Marina Koren Dvoršak, mag. Dejan Židan

Acquiring the certificate

“We decided to introduce this standard because we wanted to offer Slovenian food producers the possibility to produce food free from genetically modified organisms, and give Slovenian consumers the chance to consume Slovenian certified food products. We have clearly defined the control points and the requirements of the standard in the certification procedure which allows us to verify compliance with the requirements”, said Marina Koren Dvoršak from the Institute for Control and Certification (IKC) of the University of Maribor. She also explained that as part of successful completion of the certification procedure according to the GMO-free standard, control inspections were carried out in all milk suppliers of Mlekarna Celeia, along with the certification procedures in the feed mixing plants and agricultural co-operatives.

Support from the government

Dejan Židan, MSc, Chairman of the Committee for Agriculture, Forestry, Food and the Environment of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, also expressed his support for Mlekarna Celeia: “Due to natural resources such as the well-preserved and varied nature in Slovenia, the type of agriculture and food industry that exceeds the standards and moves away from mass industrial production has great developmental potential. This means food of higher quality that meets above-standard safety requirements. Such production will offer business security to the farmer and help the industry win recognition and become indispensable”. Anamarija Slabe, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and member of the Commission for GMO Management at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, commented on the situation in Slovenia: “Given that the EU has turned a deaf ear to consumer requests concerning GMOs in food of animal origin, food products with a GMO-free certificate and organic food products are the only ones that can guarantee we are avoiding GMOs. For this reason, this gesture of Mlekarna Celeia must be applauded”.

Slovenians say ‘no’ to GMOs

At the round table, Jožica Zajc, a young researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana interpreted the public opinion poll results about Slovenians' attitudes to GMOs. The poll was conducted in January this year by a research team from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana, the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana and the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia. The results show that most Slovenians reject GMOs. More detailed results of the study will be published after the project has been completed at the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment.

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The new yogurt and cream filling machine worth EUR 4.5 million

Higher quality products for the same price

When the new measure was adopted, Mlekarna Celeia had to redesign its entire production process. Darko Beci, a milk producer, emphasised at the round table that GMO-free feed was 2 to 4 percent more expensive but this was not much compared to the price paid by the environment and people. Realising that production costs will increase, Mlekarna Celeia ensures that the prices of products traded under our brand name ZELENE DOLINE will not rise.

For more information about GMOs, visit our website, under the GMO-free section.

Photographer: Nataša Müller

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