Consumer Reports says that “without warning or public discussion” 19 dairies in Pennsylvania were notified that their labels were “false or misleading and need to be changed.” What did the labels say?
“Our farmers’ pledge: no artificial growth hormones;” “From cows not treated with the growth hormone rBST;” and “Free of artificial growth hormones.”
From Consumer Reports:
Some cows are in fact given an artificial hormone, produced by Monsanto. Called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), it is a genetically engineered drug designed to increase milk production. However, farmers who don’t use the drug have discovered that many consumers actually prefer their milk produced the natural way, and those producers are using their non-use of the hormone as a selling point.
We find the PDA’s sudden prohibition against farmers telling consumers they are not using hormones to be surprising, to say the least. Some 13 years ago, shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made its controversial decision to approve the use of hormones, it also issued guidance specifically saying that dairies whose farmers didn’t use the artificial hormone could label their milk as “from cows not treated with rbST/rbGH.”
During the years since then, consumers have increasingly sought out milk from untreated cows. A significant number of stores and chains, including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Krogers and Publix, now offer milk and other dairy products labeled as coming from cows not treated with rbGH or rbST.
CR says the Monsanto lobbied the FDA, the FTC, and the State of Maine unsuccessfully, but has apparently found a friend in Pennsylvania.