Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Victory for milk labeling

Companies like Monsanto and Eli Lilly don't want consumers to know if their milk and other dairy products come from cows treated with bovine growth hormones. They've tried to keep growth hormone-free products from being labeled as such by lobbying the FDA, suing dairy farmers, and urging governments to curtail farmers' freedom of speech.

Now I guess I can understand why these companies have a vested interest in keeping the information about the growth hormones a secret, given the public's aversion to it . . . but why in the world has the state of Ohio been trying to "rBGH-free" and "produced without artificial growth hormones" labels from dairy products. Yup, it's true -- they tried to make it illegal to tell consumers how their milk was produced.

Well, in 2010, a Sixth Circuit court decided that milk produced with synthetic hormones is different than milk produced without it. The court found:
- A compositional difference does exist between milk from untreated cows and conventional milk.
- The use of rBGH (rbST) in milk production has been shown to elevate the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a naturally occurring hormone that in high levels is linked to several types of cancers, among other things.
- rBGH (rbST) use induces an unnatural period of milk production during a cow's "negative energy phase." Milk produced during this stage is considered to be low quality due to its increased fat content and its decreased level of proteins.
- Milk from rBGH-injected cows contains higher somatic cell counts, which makes the milk turn sour more quickly and is another indicator of poor milk quality.

But Ohio was still trying to get around the ruling and figure a way to keep labeling illegal . . . however, according to an Oct. 31st Sacramento Bee article, "The State of Ohio today agreed that it will no longer pursue regulations limiting labeling on organic dairy products."

This is a real victory toward consumers gaining the right to know what is in their food and how it's produced. Hopefully, this is a step toward getting all foods produced by genetically engineering to be labeled.


Dave said...

And here I thought that rBST was dead because even WalMart realized that its customers didn't want it and started selling only rBST free milk.

Cathe Olson said...

Yeah - - you'd think they'd get the message, huh.