Accepted Paper:

Three kinds of milk. Interferences in food quality assurance regimes  


Gisela Welz (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Food quality assurance may interfere with environmental integrity and sustainable regional development in unexpected ways. Engaging with a case study in the Republic of Cyprus, the paper unravels multiple effects of the implementation of the EU's Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label.

Paper long abstract:

Food quality assurance regimes such as the European Union's certification of regionally specific products can provoke unexpected interferences between agricultural governance, environmental issues and consumer-oriented quality policies. Against the backdrop of long-term ethnographic research on the Europeanization of food production in the Republic of Cyprus, the paper engages with the 2015 application for the EU's Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label, in order to certify halloumi, a cheese produced on the island. Traditionally, halloumi is a cheese produced either from goats milk or a mixture of goats and sheep milk. In order to accommodate the large-scale export-oriented production of industrial halloumi cheese whose main ingredient is cows milk, the application's product specification allows for up to forty nine percent of bovine milk. Because of stupendous growth rates of the industrial cheese production in Cyprus in recent years, the available volume of goats and sheep milk falls dramatically short of supporting even present levels of productivity, let alone further growth, should the cheese be required to contain at least fifty percent goats and sheep milk. Additional EU funds have been made available to quickly increase the goats and sheep population. The paper argues that the multiplication of livestock will place the environment and the water supply under added pressure, hastening along desertification. The implementation of a food quality assurance regime draws human and nonhuman elements such as soil and agro-climatic conditions into heterogeneous networks that need to be analyzed in terms of scale, ecologies and sociotechnical assemblages.

Panel C28
Meetings over and around food