By the end of this year, Starbucks will no longer serve dairy products that contain Posilac, aka rBGH or rbST, the growth hormone manufactured by Monsanto, says a Reuters article. The company was already well on its way to cutting rBGH out of its menu—as of last month, 72% of their dairy comes from rBGH-free suppliers. According to a letter sent by Starbucks to Food & Water Watch (which has heavily campaigned against the synthetic hormone), “By December 31, 2007, all of our fluid milk, half and half, whipping cream and eggnog used in U.S. company-operated stores will be produced without the use of rBGH.”
According to the article, 30% of dairy cows today are given Posilac injections to increase milk production, and Monsanto (previously discussed here and here) has countered that the decision will have negative effects on dairy farmers who rely on Posilac for their business model.
The synthetic hormone hasn’t been proven to have any negative health effects on humans—which is why the FDA doesn’t require companies to tell consumers whether or not its in their products—but it has been linked to an increase in disease and lameness among cows, and Posilac-treated milk contains higher levels of another hormone that may be linked to health problems in humans (no connection has been proven yet).
If you’re anti-synthetic hormones in your dairy products, you may also be excited by Kroger’s announcement that its milk will be rbST-free sometime in 2008. According to Wikipedia, other companies that have shunned the rbST include Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores, and Fry’s Food & Drug Stores.
[Update: We neglected to include Ben & Jerry's, which a reader has pointed out was among the earliest commercial opponents of rBGH—they've been labeling their ice cream as rBGH-free since at least 1997.]
Posilac-free lattes [Reuters]