Court Victory: Bovine Growth Hormone Labeling
ATTENTION SHOPPERS. An appeals court just upheld your right to easily choose drug-free milk from drug-free cows. This is a victory.
We're talking genetically modified bovine growth hormone, also known as rbGH, rbST, and crack for cows. It's been condemned by the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, and numerous others due to its potential for increasing cancer risk.
Banned in most other countries and banished from most US dairies, it still lurks behind friendly "All Natural" labels of companies like Breyers Ice Cream.
Before Monsanto sold off its rbGH division to Eli Lilly in 2008, they lobbied hard to their friends in state governments trying to make it illegal for dairies to label their products as our rbGH-free. They almost won in Ohio—that is until an appeals court struck down the state's label-muzzlng laws on Thursday, Sept 30th. If the decision had gone the other way, it would have forced all national brands that sold products in Ohio to remove statements like rbGH-free and artificial hormone free from their cartons.
The courts still allow Ohio to require a disclaimer on the cartons of those dairies who proclaim to not use the drug. But they told Ohio that they couldn't require that the disclaimer be on the same panel of the package as the drug-free claim. Which is very good news.
I propose that dairies use a different disclaimer than that now required by Ohio law. Here's what I propose:
Ohio governor Strickland and other politicians who cater more to the interests of biotech companies than consumers, require that we state, 'According to the FDA, there is no significant difference between the milk from cows injected with rbST compared to those not injected.' There, we've said it.
But don't be misled.
There is a BIG difference in the milk from drugged cows. Its got more of the hormone IGF-1, which is correlated with a much higher cancer risk. The milk has lower nutritional quality. And because injected cows often get udder infections, the milk has more pus and antibiotics.
So who wrote this ridiculous disclaimer? That would be Monsanto's former attorney, Michael Taylor, who was put in charge of FDA policy when rbGH was approved. He later became Monsanto's vice president, and is now the US Food Safety Czar. But even as our czar, Taylor doesn't force us to use this disclaimer. It was Ohio and four other state governments that made Taylor's suggestion a requirement. And that is why you're now reading this milk carton instead of the nearby cereal box.
Since the court (as well as scientists at the FDA) acknowledge these differences in the milk, how can state governments get away with forcing companies like ours to include the disclaimer? The operative words are 'no significant difference.' The variations are statistically different, so in this case, significant is purely a judgment call.
Perhaps in the FDA's judgment, your nutritional intake is not all that important. There are, after all, lots of under-nourished Americans out there eating FDA-approved junk food everyday. What's one more? And from a cosmic perspective, when you consider the billions of people on earth, the vast expanse of the universe, and eons of time, even contracting an antibiotic-resistant disease or getting cancer might not be considered significant.
We, however, think it is. And we do care about your health. That's why we don't use the genetically modified cow drug in our herds. It's better for the health of the cows, for the health of Mother Earth, and for you and your family's health.
Any takers for this new disclaimer?
Thank you, 6th Circuit Court, for allowing us to more easily know which milk to avoid.
from October 2010 Spilling the Beans newsletter
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