Monsanto continues its attempts to hide the basic facts of food production from consumers, this time in Kansas. The Kansas Dairy Association, along with a suspicious “grassroots” dairy group that has the same public relations firm as Monsanto, has helped introduce a bill to the state Senate that would ban “growth hormone-free” milk labels. The bill’s supporters argue that growth hormone can’t be found in lab tests, and if a lab can’t verify it, consumers don’t need to be told about it.
An editorial in the Kansas City Star describes the absurd bill:
For two days this week, a Kansas Senate committee heard testimony on a bill that would make it illegal to label food “as having a compositional claim that cannot be confirmed through laboratory analysis or to state a compositional or production-related claim that is supported solely by sworn statements, affidavits, or testimonials.”
Because milk can’t be tested for the presence of growth hormone, dairies like Shatto’s couldn’t represent their products as hormone-free in Kansas, even if they had mountains of proof that their cows weren’t injected with growth hormone.
A similar challenge would face the farmer who sells grass-fed beef, or raises chickens the old-fashioned way, rather than in a huge warehouse.
Monsanto is trying this in other states, too. According to the Environmental News Network, when the FDA refused Monsanto’s request to ban hormone labeling on a national level, Monsanto decided to start going after individual states:
Language in all the bills is very similar. For example, the Indiana bill states that a label is misleading if it contains “a compositional claim that cannot be confirmed through laboratory analysis; or compositional or production-related claim that is supported solely by sworn statements, affidavits, or testimonials.” Language in the Kansas bill was nearly identical, word for word.
ENN says Ohio just banned any compositional claims on labels, which means dairies can no longer print “rBGH-free” or “rbST-free,” but they can still print production claims such as “from cows not supplemented with rbST.” Pennsylvania had also jumped on the Monsanto special interest bandwagon, but last month “rescinded a controversial law banning rBGH-free labels following a massive backlash from dairy companies and consumer advocates.” In Indiana, a politician introduced a similar bill in January, but ultimately decided not to bring it to the floor for a vote because it didn’t have enough support.
In Kansas, several newspapers are speaking out against the bill, and pointing out that consumers have the right to know what steps go into making the milk they buy. From the Lawrence Journal-World:
The label on the bottle states, in part: “We do not use injectable hormones (BGH) and our product is completely free of antibiotics.”
That is important information for customers, says Nancy O’Connor, the Merc’s education director.
O’Connor said people “want to know how their food was grown or produced and who grew or produced it.
“This type of labeling is their right to know.”
And from the Topeka Capital-Journal:
Tim Iwig says he doesn’t know whether milk from cows that haven’t been given recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH, is healthier or not. He just knows he should have the right to tell people he doesn’t use it on his dairy cows to induce them to produce more milk. He has the support of the secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the president of the Kansas Farmers Union.
Iwig knows people who think milk from dairy herds given rBGH is just as safe as other milk. He also knows people who prefer what he produces. He says he isn’t taking sides in the health debate.
“People can believe what they want,” he says. “I don’t care. I’m just saying I don’t use it.”
We don’t know why that isn’t fair to everyone. We do know our legislators have a lot of more important issues they should be dealing with before the gavel falls on their 2008 session.
Free-range chicken producers haven’t driven Tyson out of business, and Ted Turner’s lean buffalo meat, available at his Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants, hasn’t closed down any burger joints or steak houses. And it’s unlikely the Iwig Family Farm and its cows pose any threat to the huge dairies churning out most of the milk we see on the grocery shelves.
You can read even more articles about Monsanto’s new strategy on this forum from the Salina Journal.
Monsanto may be footing the bill for all this legislative nonsense, but we want to take a moment to give the middle finger to all the dairy farmers in these states who use Monsanto’s hormones to increase profits, but who are so afraid of competition from non-Monsanto dairies that they’re actually trying to create laws to manipulate the market. Does Monsanto cut you a deal on more hormones if you hand your souls over to them completey?
(Thanks to Ashley!)
“Food labeling law isn’t for our protection” [KansasCity.com]
“Battle over rBGH-free labeling continues in US states” [ENN]
“Milk bottle battle emerges” [Lawrence World-Journal]
“Milk Labeling — Hardly a threat” [Topeka Capital-Journal]
Kansas Chatter Forum [Salina Journal]
AFACT, the “independent” Monsanto-supported special interest group