90% of U.S. Cheese Contains GMO Made by Pfizer

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by Ashley Armstrong, Childrens Health Defense:

Rennet is used as a clotting agent to curdle the milk into cheese, separating the liquid parts of milk from the solids. Pfizer makes a genetically modified rennet, but because of a labeling loophole, cheese containing Pfizer’s rennet does not have to be labeled as containing a genetically modified organism.

Story at a glance:

  • Traditionally, cheese was made with just four ingredients: milk, salt, starter culture and animal rennet.
  • Rennet is used as a clotting agent to curdle the milk into cheese, separating the liquid parts of milk from the solids. It’s an essential part of the cheese-making process.

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  • Today, there are four types of rennet used in the cheese-making industry: animal rennet, vegetable rennet, microbial rennet and a genetically modified version called FPC (fermentation-produced chymosin), made by Pfizer.
  • Bioengineered FPC was granted Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status, which exempted Pfizer from the pre-approved requirements that apply to other new food additives. This is even though studies have detailed concerns about safety.
  • An estimated 90% of North American cheese is made with FPC rennet, and ingredient labels do not distinguish between bioengineered rennet and the original animal-based type so consumers have no way of knowing what they’re eating.

In this article let’s dive into why I believe you should only be eating cheese made with ANIMAL RENNET, and how over 90% of the cheese sold in the U.S. does not use this and instead uses a genetically modified organism (GMO) version made by Pfizer.

Cheese history

Who doesn’t love cheese?! And for good reason — it is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. And despite what the mainstream tells us, humans have been making and consuming this superfood for over 7,000 years. In fact, cheese serves an important role in human history.

Historians document that milk, dairy and fermented dairy products, like cheese, served as a nutrient-dense calorie source that was storable, allowing some of the first explorers to safely travel and expand communities, creating more demographic shifts and diverse farming communities.

“Dairy provided food security, as it is a nutrient-rich superfood.

Consumption of milk and dairy products would have had many advantages for early farming populations. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of calories, protein, and fat. They provide a reliable food between harvests or during droughts, epidemics, or famines.

“Milk is a relatively pathogen-free source of fluids that could be critical during times of water scarcity. Cheese provides a means of storing these nutrients to be used when milk production is low, and can be easily transported.

“Furthermore, fermentation of milk into yogurt or cheese lowers lactose content and allows lactose intolerant individuals to reap the benefits, while maintain, or in some cases enhancing, other essential nutrients such as fat and calcium.”

But cheese was traditionally made with just these four ingredients:

  1. Milk.
  2. Salt.
  3. Starter culture, what’s used to make the desired cheese strain (for ex. Muenster versus Swiss).
  4. Animal rennet is used as a clotting agent to curdle the milk into cheese, separating the liquid parts of milk from the solids — a very vital part of the cheese-making process!

You add culture to milk and let it ferment. Then, you add rennet, which separates the milk into curds and whey. Then you press the curds and age them. And voila — cheese!

Rennet is a complex set of enzymes that are naturally produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals, like cows.

The main enzyme present is chymosin, which is a protease enzyme, meaning it breaks down protein. Rennet from animals also contains other enzymes like pepsin and lipase.

So these enzymes in rennet target casein, the main protein in milk. They cause the casein molecules to divide and re-coagulate into even larger clumps, forming cheese curds.

So, rennet serves as a vital part of cheesemaking since it helps curdle the milk into cheese, separating the liquid part from the solid part.

Types of rennet

There are four types of rennet used in the cheese-making industry: animal rennet, vegetable rennet, microbial rennet and FPC (a GMO version).

1. Animal rennet — Animal rennet is the most natural and oldest form of rennet, and what was traditionally used in cheese making. There are milk-clotting enzymes naturally occurring in the stomach lining of ruminant animals.

It is well known in the cheese-making industry that animal rennet produces a superior flavor, likely because this rennet is a complex set of enzymes (as nature intended), rather than a single isolated enzyme derived in a lab.

Animal rennet is usually 90% chymosin enzyme and 10% pepsin enzyme. The small amount of pepsin will break down the casein protein in milk in a slightly different way compared to just chymosin alone, producing a final product with an enhanced taste.

Cheese made using animal rennet not only tastes better, but it also produces a safer and more natural final cheese product, which will be discussed in depth below.

2. Vegetable rennet — One alternative to animal rennet is vegetable rennet, which unfortunately varies a lot depending on the source, and the term “vegetable rennet” is misused a lot.

True vegetable rennet is derived from plants that possess coagulation enzymes. These plant extracts have been used as milk coagulants since ancient times. Some examples include cardoon thistle, fig tree bark or nettles.

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