GDAL 1.8.0 has been released :
gdal-1.8.0 is already in portage. Sorry for the noise.
1.8.0 has an important update: it now supports the pdf format, in particular geopdf. geopdf is the new USGS standard for topo. maps. So gdal has an additional configure option for poppler. poppler therefore should to be added as a dependancy in the ebuild, controlled by a poppler USE keyword.
Provenance : upstream patch (http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/changeset/21526)
Sorry, comment #3 does not belong to this bug. If somebody can discard it, please do it.