Monsanto Is Trying To Ban Hormone Labeling At The State Level

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 Pennsylvania had also jumped on the Monsanto special interest bandwagon, but last month “rescinded a controversial law banning rBGH-free labels following a massive backlash from dairy companies and consumer advocates.”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” []

“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
(Photo: jonmclean)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dondiego87 says:

    On the one hand, this feels dirty dirty dirty. On the other, though, I feel like the difference between “rbST-free” and “from cows not supplemented with rbST” is trivial. Except for those people who assume that “____-free” is always a good thing, even if they don’t know what it is. (E.g., DHMO-free.)

  2. Mr. Gunn says:

    I agree with the first commenter. The whole “compositional labeling” thing is part of why our food supply is in such a mess. Picking on one ingredient, be it sodium, saturated fat, trans-fats, or whatever, to demonize gives the misleading impression that if you create a food lacking that substance, it’s necessarily healthier.

    As anyone who remembers the Olestra debacle understands, that ain’t necessarily so. In fact, removing sugar from foods to create “diet” versions is what led to higher levels of trans-fats.

    You gotta focus on eating fresh, whole, minimally-processed food. Everything else is marketing.

  3. billbillbillbill says:

    This bill is also being debated in Utah with the plan to require labels that advertise no growth hormones to put a disclaimer that they are not superior. It makes no sense to legislate this. If people care enough to spend the extra money on hormone free milk, let them.

  4. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If dairy people want to put a rambling story from a 3 year old on their labels they should be able to.

    The law should only prevent them from adding false information and omitting required information.

  5. Mayor McRib says:

    I sleep better at night not knowing how my food is made. Next they will actually start telling me what specific parts are in my hot dogs. Ignorance is bliss.


  6. ianmac47 says:

    I don’t see how states can be limiting the free expression of a marketing department. If indeed hormones don’t show up in milk, than all milk could truthfully be labeled as hormone free. Its rather like saying milk is a white colored liquid, and putting it on the label.

  7. bohemian says:

    As long as I can still tell what milk has been produced sans Monsanto growth hormones I will still by milk.

    I won’t drink hormone treated milk. Drinking it over a period of days starts to make my allergies flare up. Milk should not make you a snotty wheezing mess.

  8. parabola101 says:

    It’s the slippery slope of reality! While I prefer the taste of organic milk over the taste of non-organic. My understanding is that ALL milk contains hormones as ALL cow’s naturally produce a hormone called somatotropin — a hormone produced in the cow’s pituitary gland. The chemical people (the bad people in this article) have always claimed that THEY can make the same exact hormone in their lab. The FDA agreed & made the “hormone-free” label ruling in 2003. (see link below)

    At the end of the day — I think consumers have a right to know WHAT they are consuming and how food products are produced. For example, at this point in time I am not ready to eat cloned cows even if the FDA says it’s ok. I advocate more information on all labels so that consumers can have a choice.


  9. savvy999 says:

    Why is Kansas such fertile ground for ‘alternative’ theories about everything– segregation, evolution, milk composition, tornado-induced time/space travel?

    Of course, some of these theories are wonderful (see Oliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al.), but most are just crazy.

  10. apotheosis says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    The law should only prevent them from adding false information and omitting required information.

    And in a rational world, that’s about all anyone needs to say on the subject.

  11. kittenfoo says:

    I used to raise chickens, and I can’t bear the thought of how battery chickens are treated. I will gladly pay double for free range eggs, though you can usually get free range eggs for about a dollar a dozen from 4-H kids raising hens.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s amazing the heaps of hostility (some) companies have to a simple notion: make it how you like, let us know honestly, then let the market decide.

    Freaken communists.

    For me, it’s a proxy: any factory cramming antibiotics and hormones down the throat of Else is a horrorshow. I like feeding kids on milk made from happy cows.

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    Industry experts try to confuse the issue by blurring science as to whether Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) milk is superior or not. That’s not the issue.

    I have the right to know what I am ingesting and make my own choices. Without labelilng information, I am unable to do so.

    80% of all corn grown in the country is genetically modified (GM) to produce its own pesticides. This goes into virtually all prepared foods, often as high fructose corn syrup. GM ingredients are banned in Europe, yet in the USA, we don’t even require to have it on the label.

    This is the same FDA that is trying to ban purchasing (cheaper) drugs overseas, despite the major drug companies all having offshore manufacturing plants.

    This is the same FDA that doesn’t require food or drug companies to publish negative research studies. Companies can submit positive studies, win approval, and not disclose other studies that have had negative results. People die as a result (Vioxx anyone).

    This is the same FDA that doesn’t have enough inspectors to insure safe domestic food supply, (want some tainted beef?) and inspects only a few percent of the imported food we eat.

    This is a big deal. Freedom of information is a central tenet of Democracy. Protecting citizenry is a central function of government. The FDA is proof that our government is willing to sacrifice lives to continue to pander to coporate interest.

    From “”The top two positions at the FDA are now headed by Big Pharma representatives”

    Kinda makes having your receipt checked seem kinda trivial huh?

  14. jfischer says:

    This legislation is utter nonsense.

    This is like Roger Clemens pointing to a lack of detectable steroids in the baseballs he hit as “proof” that he did not use steroids himself!

    If one looks at the entire USDA Organic certification process, one finds that all stages in the production of an organic food are inspected and certified.

    One would use exactly the same approach to certify the the dairy herd was free of farmer-added hormones, and hence, the milk was produced by rBGH-free/rbST-free cows.

    Certification of the health of dairy herds is old hat.
    Reliance on those certifications as a factor in assuring the safety of milk is also old hat.

    Consumers want country-of-origin labels, and they want a complete run-down on issues like GMOs, hormones, and other modern tricks. This is a consumer preference issue, just like “shade-grown coffee”. There need not be a specific lab test or a specific tangible health issue to justify the claims, just as there is no specific advantage to “shade-grown coffee”.

  15. ancientsociety says:

    @SkokieGuy: While I agree with your argument, GMOs are actually NOT banned in the EU but they are strictly labeled as GMO.

  16. JMH says:

    @kittenfoo: Ooh, thanks for reminding me that I need to buy eggs!

  17. LadyKathryn says:

    I think the difference between “rBST-free” and “from cowns not injected with rBST” is pretty big. The first is making a blind promise about chemistry that cannot be tested. The second is akin to saying “free range” or “corn fed” or any other marketing promise about how the animal that provides that food is treated.

    If we can’t test for it, I’d rather not regulate whether or not its there. I’m far more comfort with verifying treatment of animals with affidavits and pledges than chemistry.

  18. sleze69 says:

    @SkokieGuy: I still haven’t seen any studies that have conclusively shown that genetically modified or hormonally treated is in any way unhealthy.

    While it is true that it does reduce genetic diversity in the face of an unknown disease that could wipe out the crop, there really isn’t anything to show that it is bad for people.

    This question is kind of related: Are you against irradiating food as well?

  19. laserjobs says:

    Milk is made for calves so I don’t understand why humans would consume it in the first place. Lots of natural growth hormones in milk because calves need to grow fast to reach maturity. I wouldn’t be surprised if milk is one of the reasons for the high cancer rates in milk consuming countries. rbST can’t be helping the situation as it may not increase rbST but it does produce more IGF even according to a corporate scientific study.

  20. slapBOXmaster says:

    @jfischer: “There need not be a specific lab test or a specific tangible health issue to justify the claims, just as there is no specific advantage to “shade-grown coffee”.”

    Isn’t the advantage knowing that no forest was clear-cut to grow the coffee. If you want to support the enviro-ethical stance of the company you should be able to.
    The same goes for the milk; Even if there are no ill-affects ( for the sake of the argument ) from ingesting hormone laden milk shouldn’t we be able to make the choice as to who’s milk producing philosophy we want to support.

    This is the land of the free or at least it was.

  21. SkokieGuy says:

    ancientsociety: Thank you for the correction!

    GMO-free regions in Europe
    At least 174 regions, over 4500 municipalities and other local entities and tens of thousands of farmers and food producers in Europe have declared themselves “GMO-free” expressing their commitment not to allow the use of genetically modified organisms in the agriculture and food in their territories.

    A further point of interest, because pollen is disbursed through the air, the ability for organic farmer in the US is being diminished. An organic farmer cannot be located within miles of a GMO farm, as there is no way to prevent cross-contamination.

    There have even been cases of organic crops being showing evidence of GM contamination and BEING SUED by Monsanto for growing ‘their’ product without proper licensing.

  22. Terek Kincaid says:

    Sweet, another rBST post! I’ll keep my involvement minimal this time, but read the thread of comments from the last Monsanto post to find out why you’re an idiot if you think rBST is going to hurt you.

    That said, this is about legal and scientific standards, even if the motive is economic. If there is no test for rBST, you cannot label something as “rBST-free”. If I say “prove it”, you can’t, end of story. “Growth hormone-free” is a gross misrepresentation, because all mammals have endogenous growth hormones, and to say they don’t is just plain wrong an ignorant. The correct phrase is that they don’t contain exogenous growth hormone, or recombinant hormone, or whatever. But again, if you can’t test for it, you can’t make that claim.

    The only true claim you can make is that you didn’t treat your cows with rBST or rBGH. That is a claim you can back up. It’s a matter of fact and logic.

    That said, here in Pittsburgh I just bought a gallon of milk. When I opened it at home, I noticed an rBST-free label on the cap. I can get some sweet money from the dairy for false advertising – they can’t prove it ;)

  23. slapBOXmaster says:

    @laserjobs: “Milk is made for calves so I don’t understand why humans would consume it in the first place.”

    We choose to drink the milk for the added protein just like the Masai chose to drink the cows blood for protein. It allows us to get the nutrition we need over a longer period of time. It basically is one of the major reason people had been able to survive longer periods without meat.

    As for why we drink it now. Well I don’t think you’d be seeing human milk for sale in the near future even though it would probably be the best milk we ( as humans ) could consume.

  24. sporks says:

    @savvy999: Some Kansans surprisingly don’t give into the silly ID debate and tornado induced time travel or think our state legislature is great. Some of us even go so far as to go vegetarian or vegan and drink non GMO rice milk instead of hormone riddled milk. Or maybe it’s just me buying all the rice milk in the grocery store.

    Knowing the idiocy of the Kansas Legislature and its want to appease big business instead of public opinion (as proven by their attempt to allow two coal plants to be built even though the Governor and KDHE had denied the first ones, but also the fact that 60% of Kansans didn’t want the plants) they may go ahead and pass this.

  25. strangeffect says:

    @ninabi: Hear, hear.

  26. SkokieGuy says:

    sleze69: We could debate the health issue of milk containing BGH, but that is certainly not a Consumerist issue, neither is my my personal beliefs and choices about what I do or don’t consume.

    What I do believe is a Consumerist issue and would frankly expect widespread agreement with is that we ARE entitled to detailed information about the food we consume.

  27. laserjobs says:

    @slapBOXmaster: Why do we naturally stop drinking human milk if it is so good for us? Why are we the only mammals who drink milk after weening? Why are we the only mammals who drink other mammals milk?

    It just seems strange to me

  28. bohemian says:

    If you want to see how totally out of control our food supply is, go look at what some of these ingredients really are. Someone suggested I cut a couple of things out of my diet that could have been potentially making a medical condition worse. They said cut out corn syrup and MSG. I did some research into what had MSG in it and found huge lists of all the things that are actually MSG under another name or a food additive that has massive amounts of MSG in it.

    I cut both almost completely out of my diet for a month and had a major reduction in symptoms and generally feeling icky. But trying to not eat those two things is extremely hard, they are in everything.

  29. youbastid says:

    @laserjobs: Well, that’s the PETA party line, but we’re also the only mammals that can talk, cry tears, build cities, have religion, write words, etc. etc. Doesn’t explain why we drink milk, but you’re not going to figure it out until you can answer all those other ones.

    As for the whole Monsanto situation – if BGH was sooo safe, why do they have a problem with other companies advertising their non use of it? Why can’t they figure out a way to market their BGH-full milk as BETTER than the other stuff? Ya know, since it’s 100% safe and all, and makes your milk cheaper. Is it maybe because…it’s not so safe?

  30. slapBOXmaster says:

    @laserjobs: “Why do we naturally stop drinking human milk if it is so good for us?”

    Would you want to come home after school and have a cookie in one hand and your moms boob ( covered in ice – cause who wants warm milk ) in the other.

    Sorry I couldn’t help it.. And eww to me for having to think about that before I wrote it.

    I don’t know why we stop . Maybe it has something to do with growing teeth and in more nomadic times that was a sign that you should start eating meat ( and thus reduce the stress on your mother having to produce milk for you ) . We kept it for the various other uses it has. Cheese, ice cream, you know all the stuff that is really tasty and for the most part nutritious. Other animals don’t have minds like ours and are not able to understand that mammals milk is actually a good source of nutrition. Also they do not see the benefit of keeping the cow alive to harvest this resource instead giving in to the instinct to kill and eat meat.

    Mammal milk is something that we as a species owe a part of our success to. Without this resource many generations of human would have never survived and we would be in a very different place now without it.

  31. bukz68 says:

    The most logical argument for banning the “hormone free” labeling on dairy products is that it is so hard to differentiate the milk of a cow who has received hormone injections from the cow who has not received them. Some unethical farmers could conceivably label their milk “rBST free” all the while pumping their cows full of hormone. The label, for all intents and purposes, could end up being a crock anyways.

    However, IMO I think the FDA/Dept. Agriculture needs to develop some kind of standard/test/oversight that would allow the possibility of a “hormone free” label. While there probably isn’t a huge difference in the end product of genetically modified foods I do believe that consumers have the right to know how their food was prepared and what may be in it. We won’t really know the effects of genetically modified foods until we can look at multiple generations of “users” to measure them against a control. Mice and short studies don’t always cut it. Hell even a few years ago people were blaming the chemicals in shampoo for causing young women to go through puberty at younger ages.

  32. teapartys_over says:

    @laserjobs: Milk and milk products taste very good. And they supply us with calcium. I don’t care if you have some sort of ethical problem with milk and you want to bring that up, but it seems disingenuous to couch it in these “me no understand” terms. Milk and cheese and cream and butter and ice cream all taste very, very good. What’s to understand?

  33. teapartys_over says:

    @bohemian: They are in very little if you don’t eat processed foods.

  34. teapartys_over says:

    The thing is to stay away from factory farmed products if you care about whether they have hormones, antibiotics, or were killed for consumption after showing signs of illness. You pay so little for a gallon of milk because it was factory farmed, with all the cost-cutting measures that may or may not be good for our health, and all the ethical problems with inflicting pain and suffering on an animal that most of us couldn’t stomach if we had to watch it happen. I pay more – much more – for local organic humanely raised meat, eggs, and dairy products. I care about the quality of the food supply and all the genetic modifications going into our food supply in order to grow more to feed the factory-farmed animals. And there’s no reason why they can’t label this stuff “GMO” or “this cow was give rBST or antibiotics” except that they know sales would automatically decrease just from people having to read that label.

    Did anyone see “The Corporation”? Interesting section on how Monsanto managed to completely kill an investigative report showing links between rBST and cancer.

    Yes this was a rant, sorry. My most passionate cause I think.

  35. tomsucks says:

    @teapartys_over: Yeah, here’s the video from the corporation you’re looking for.

  36. csdiego says:

    I want to know whether my dairy products come from cows that were fed extra hormones because the “cows not treated with rBGH” label is a shortcut for “likelier to be free of infectious agents”. Cows fed on hormones produce more milk, but they also get sick more often. I don’t trust the USDA to monitor the milk I buy (see last month’s Humane Society video of downer cows being shoved around so they could be slaughtered), so I use “rBGH-free” as a proxy for “less likely to make me sick”.

    That’s not to mention the fact that the pressure on farmers to increase their yields by using rBGH makes farming that much more capital-intensive and makes it that much harder for small-scale farmers to compete.

    If all you care about is getting the most hookers and blow for your money, fine, but if I want to buy dairy products that I think are higher quality, then it’s my right to know which ones those are.

  37. timsgm1418 says:

    I’ll have to pass on buying human milk…I’ll stick to LactAid@slapBOXmaster:

  38. “but who are so afraid of competition from non-Monsanto dairies that they’re actually trying to create laws to manipulate the market.”

    Dairy is like a RICO-level racket to keep little guys and alternative methods — and even big guys with different corporate structures! — from competing with the already-established winners. This is small potatoes compared to some of the shit the dairy industry does to manipulate the market through legislation. (Although it’s still obnoxious.)

  39. bobblack555 says:

    I know alot of the people involved in both sides of this battle.

    Nancy O’Conner was my old boss at the Merc and is dead on with her statement about the consumer having a right to know.

    I also happen to know the account execs involved at Osborn and Barr, the P.R. firm involved with Monsanto and the grass roots campaign and can tell you that more than likely, the reason that the grass roots campaign’s work is “pro bono” through the agency is merely to skirt legal issues (conflict of interest, etc.)

    I’m disappointed that my friends at Osborn and Barr would intentionally try to block a consumers’ right to know what’s in their food, just because a client paid them to.

  40. DevPts says:

    @SkokieGuy: Seriously ?
    Does knowing the extent of the genetic modification really alter your perception of the product ?

    If the packages where labeled as you suggest would you read it ?
    I suspect more people simply read: homogenized milk 1% $3.39 good before _this_date__; or 1.54 lb 97% lean $2.89 packaged on _this_date__
    That’s it.

    If Monsanto can genetically alter their seeds to produce a more robust seed strain, why not ? If some farmer can get more ounces of milk from the same cow by using steroids, why not ?

    If the genetic markers don’t show in the end product sitting on my table, why not ?

  41. Monsanto is the most evil company on the planet. It belongs in the survey.
    Everything they do is evil.

    You have the right to know what is in your food. The government does not care about you. It only cares about the companies that put money in the politician’s pockets.

  42. savvy999 says:

    @laserjobs: Humans have evolved to have adult lactose tolerance, coinciding with the domestication of the cow. []

    Our species’ default is intolerance, but a recent gene mutation enables most us to enjoy the creamy rGBH goodness well after infancy.

  43. Aesteval says:

    1) I don’t agree with corporate interests taking up this cause as I
    doubt that their interests match a practical result of what this sort
    of legislation would change.

    2) Overall, I support the legislation. Why? Because all it does is
    change the wording of the labelling based in the example; the wording
    is changed in a way so that the point that the farmers are trying to
    make is still being made and is being made in a clearer way (ie:
    hormone free vs. produced from cows that were not given the
    hormone…the “hormone free” statement does seem to be a bit more all
    encompassing than what they actually want to say and could be construed
    as misleading.)

    @SkokieGuy: re: FDA, Government, et al

    Meanwhile this is the same government that has mentioned that they
    are concerned about terrorist cell contamination threats to food and
    drug supplies. The FDA and other consumer protection agencies would be
    a first line of defense against a “terrorist” attack in this manner.
    And yet with all this money being spent on “anti terrorist” activities,
    we can’t even properly fund or run such valuable agencies.

    Meanwhile the increase of domestic companies relying upon
    outsourcing also increases the risk of this source of issue. But big
    business wants to outsource because it’s “cheaper” and what big
    business wants, the government wants to give it right? There’s a
    pharmeceutical company that has(d) three plants in New England that is
    shutting all three of those plants down and moving operations to India
    right. So this will benefit the country and economy right? The
    government thinks that if it benefits the business then it will benefit
    everyone? Nevermind how since it’s pharmeceuticals, the cost savings
    will NEVER be passed along to the consumers purchasing the products and
    X number of employees that have been/will be laid off.

    Sorry, this isn’t really necessarily direct AT you, but your comment, and the comment that you were replying to, brought it out.

  44. teapartys_over says:

    @DevPts: If it’s OK, then labeling it shouldn’t be a problem. They can do what they want, but I want to know what I’m buying.

  45. loueloui says:

    All things being equal I’d rather not drink something with some weird chemicals added to it. My usual milk of choice one day just had an rbst free label added to it one day. It still tastes, and looks just like it did before, and it’s just as cheap, and that’s what I want. This garbage is made for producers of milk, not consumers. I really can’t imagine anyone clamoring for extra chemicals added to their foodstuffs.

    And I don’t trust those fuckers from Monsanto one bit.

  46. azntg says:

    @suburbancowboy: Well said.

    And for the others who are definitely going to bother bringing up the “well, would you rather people starve?” argument… In my eyes, tampering with food for human consumption is equally as bad as starving. Yes, I’d rather starve than eat “mutilated beyond all hell” food.

  47. DevPts says:

    @teapartys_over: Perhaps I didn’t make my point clear. Should it be a law one way or the other, I doubt. That’s the great thing about free markets. But, much like health care, without adequate information how do you make an informed decision even if you do actually read the label. Somewhere there has to be a limit to what IS on the packaging.

    If the manufacturer wants to label the product as being hormone free, let them.

    I wonder, though, how many folks actively read the labels (esp: @loueloui)

    It’s a tough one for sure. I would have to side, overall, with the producers though. If they want the label, let them.

  48. TickedOff says:

    I swear it seems that *nothing*, absolutely nothing, Monsanto has their fingers in is either completely unethical or immoral in any definition or interpretation of the two concepts. The leaders, and the apparently sheep scientists who work there, are unethical and immoral people to their very cores. I say this as someone who as worked in biotech/pharma!

    If it’s not hiding relevant health and safety information like rBGH, it’s contaminating non-GMO crops and suing the contaminees for IP violations, or polluting entire watersheds and rivers in the Philippines with herbicides to facilitate illegal clear-cut logging and dispose of hazardous waste on the cheap.

  49. MrMold says:

    The Europeans have declined the use of rBGH as the effects are unknown. Why are legislatures trying to decrease consumer awareness of the additives in food?

  50. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    I don’t know which is worse: companies thinking for us, or government thinking for us. But I know that when they both think for us, we’re screwed.

  51. @sporks: Amen. If you know enough about what rbst is, you’re probably buying organic or milk alternatives. If you’re concerned about the people that “don’t know any better”, well, the twinkie and KFC they’re eating is probably a bigger health issue.

    Monsanto is dumb for bringing up the semantics of it. They’re just drawing more mainstream attention to themselves and all the “wonderful” things the ag business does. Conventional milk will always be sold, because there will always be a significant portion of the population that can’t pay 6 dollars a gallon for organic soy milk.

  52. Brian Gee says:

    @youbastid: The Monsanto hormone, to the best of my knowledge, does not cause cows to produce milk that is better or worse than non-treated cows. They just make more of it. It is theoretically better for the farmers, since they can produce more milk with fewer cows, reducing their production costs.

    From there it boils down to the same arguments as “Walmart vs Mom&Pop Shops”, though I’m not even sure that really applies since I don’t buy milk at a local shop; I buy it from a grocery store that gets it from multiple large distributors.

    Oddly enough, just about every brand of milk I’ve seen lately is labelled “not from cows treated with rBST”, but I don’t buy it unless I see that label. It’s not because I think the milk is inherently better. It’s because I don’t think there is a need to overproduce milk, since there is no shortage of either cows or milk. For me the tradeoff of having even more surplus milk is not worth the risk of some long-term (say 10, 20, or 30 years down the road) health problem that simply hasn’t showed up yet because rBST hasn’t been in the food supply long enough.

    For example, once you ingest mad-cow infected meat, you’re hosed. You can’t be tested for it, but symptoms (and death) won’t happen until 10 years after infection. Anyone who ate some of that 145million lb beef recall (which included meat going back as far as 2006, and an estimated 30% of it was consumed) is totally screwed, but not for another decade. When the US eventually has a Mad Cow epidemic, it will be impossible to say which hamburgers people ate in 2006 and 2007 ultimately killed them.

  53. 3DLADY says:

    This corporate double-speak has always pissed me off. If these large milk companies think there is absolutely nothing harmful with rBGH, then they should not fear labels identifying the milk as such. It’s the same crap when chemical
    companies want to build a new plant and state there is nothing harmful for the surrounding homes and people. The CEO should put his money where his mouth is and build his 3 million dollar mansion just outside the plant perimeter fence. Then I will finally believe his bs.

  54. Brunette Bookworm says:

    You may think I’m an idiot when I don’t want milk with rBST in it but I think I have the right to know where my food is from. I want to be able to know milk or dairy products are from cows who weren’t given hormones. I should have the right to the information so that I can make the choice I want.

    That being said, rules like this make an even stronger case for finding a local source for food where you can actually talk to the person producing it and find out how your food was raised, grown, produced, etc.

  55. anatak says:

    All science aside – no consumer should ever take the side of Monsanto. Ever.

  56. ChuckECheese says:

    Don’t let the baseball players find out that rBGH is undetectable, or they might start taking it along with their undetectable HGH. Undetectable, except that they’ll probably express a little milk when they swing hard for those home runs.

  57. XianZomby says:

    This is a simple fix. You don’t claim the milk is hormone free, you claim the milk comes from “cows raised without hormones.”

    For me, this is not a food safety issue. I really don’t believe Monsanto is trying to poison me with anything, and believe their executives and scientists drink the same milk the rest of us do.

    For me, this is an animal welfare issue. Hormones like these really push dairy cows past what nature intended for them to do, and I believe it hurts them physically in some way.

    So, if you want to indicate to consumers that your cows were not given hormones, then say that. Don’t talk about the milk, because I believe Monsanto when they say milk that comes from cows treated with their hormone doesn’t itself contain hormones. It’s about the cows.

  58. Recury says:

    Monsanto has the second most evil-sounding name of any corporation (behind Blackwater, of course). Which Bond movie was he the villian in again?

  59. XianZomby says:

    @sleze69: This question is kind of related: Are you against irradiating food as well?

    I don’t believe irradiating food is dangerous for me. In fact, I think it would make food safer. However, my objections are not about what radiation does to the food, but what radiation as a final process allows food manufactures to do on their production lines.

    In regards to meat production, irradiation covers up the effects of sloppiness, inhumane treatment of animals and ill-treatment of food processing employees.

    I think the primary reason our beef gets contaminated with e coli is the mistakes made by food workers who have to keep up with rigorous production requirements. Food companies would like to produce even faster, but that increase in speed leads to mistakes by production employees that ultimately lead to food recalls and lawsuits. That increase in production speed also leads to unsafe conditions for workers and less than humane treatment of livestock, but that doesn’t affect profit.

    If companies that pack meat had a catch-all mechanism to eliminate biological contaminates from entering their product — something that happens at the end and eliminates any lawsuit inducing mistakes — then they could increase their production speed and profit. Irradiation would negate the issues involving contamination of food. But as long as Americans aren’t getting sick, they don’t care how many illegal immigrants lost their arms in food production equipment, or how many cows were dehided while they were still alive and kicking.

    I don’t believe irradiation is dangerous, but I do believe it forgives sloppiness in food production creates an environment where worker safety and animal welfare concerns can be safely ignored.

  60. SadSam says:

    Somehow the fact that Monsanto is behind this clues me in on how I’d vote. Is rBHG-free milk ‘healthier’ my understanding is there is really no difference but it goes to how the milk is produced. Do you want your milk to come from happy cows or cows injected with stuff that Monsanto manufactures? I want my milk to come from happy cows and I’m happy to pay more. My husband on the other hand doesn’t care and he buys what we call in our house ‘regular’ milk and he buys me ‘happy cow’ milk and all is right with the world.

  61. overbysara says:

    go to hell monsanto. go to hell.

  62. NumberFourtyThree says:

    Hmm, if you think about it, the way that is phrased would ban kosher certification, as there are some requirements that determine if a food is kosher that you could not verify by testing the finished product (for instance, could you analyze a steak to determine the exact method of how the cow was slaughtered?

  63. facework says:

    Monsanto = Evil

    This company is responsible for large scale environmental catastrophes. They brought us Agent Orange and PCBs. They are scheming to introduce improperly tested or un-tested, potentially harmful (to humans, the environment, or vital parts of the ecosystem) genetically engineered products into the world.

    The question is not if, but when Monsanto will inflict another catastrophe on the planet.

    Be informed and don’t support Monsanto contaminated products:

  64. shane123 says:

    There is a big difference in labeling milk “r-BHG Free” and “milk not produced with r-BHG”. Since the hormone cannot actually be found in any milk. Technically r-BHG cow milk could be labeled “r-BHG free”! If people don’t want to drink milk make from cows injected with r-BHG then that is their right. Whether Monsanto is right or wrong, labeling should be as correct as possible. The real reason behind the labeling fight is that farmers are trying to charge a premium price for “organic milk” by jumping on the organic bandwagon. There is no evil corporation. Such a comment is for conspiracy theoriests. People here are just trying to make money trying by convicing others that their milk is better and healthier than their competitors. I recommend that before people start spending their money by what is “better and healthier” they should do some research and not rely on what a label tells them.

  65. RIP MRHANDS says:

    @shane123: Brought to you by Monsanto.

  66. XianZomby says:

    @facework: Well, I’m not “pro Monsanto” exactly, though my dad did work for them for like 40 years and still consults for them. But your link to a Geocities site? Really? Isn’t there something from Greenpeace at least? Some ranting clown on Geocities puts up a site and that’s your source of information about them?

    As far as toxicity of RoundUp is concerned, the stuff kills half the rats who eat 5,108 mg of RoundUp per 1 kg of body weight. [] [] Translated to a 150 pound person, you’d need to eat more than 3/4 of a pound of the stuff to have half a chance of dying.

    “practically non-toxic”

    Granted, that’s from a Monsanto-produced MSDS, but I doubt OSHA or whatever other federal agencies that require these things to be produced allow verbiage like “practically non-toxic” unless it is backed up with some reproducible science.

    But why trust OSHA or science when you can trust some conspiracy theorist on Geocities that also produced this enviro-friendly gem:

    “The fact of the matter is that global warming is a lie propagated by the communist inspired, anti-God, feminist, socialist cabal that controls everything through both major political parties, and their unacknowledged partner in crime: the Korporate Media.” — North Star Zone []

    Good thing you don’t work for CNN.

  67. Angryrider says:

    Hormones + Cows= Cows with udders of pus.

  68. kimsama says:

    The argument in this case isn’t about whether or not rBST/rBGH is evil and bad, but whether consumers have the right to know that the milk they are purchasing was or was not produced by cattle that were treated with it.

    Even the rBST-lovers on this board can agree that the only consumerist choice is to have that information available to the consumer through clear labeling. Then we can all decide for ourselves whether or not we think it is safe for our own consumption, instead of relying on an all-to fallible FDA and Monsanto to make that decision for us. If you love rBST, great, and if you hate it, great, you’ll get what you want if it’s labeled accordingly.

  69. Mr. Gunn says:

    The issue here is that some companies are trying to market their milk as healthier because it doesn’t have rBST, when in fact there’s no data showing that that’s true.

    They’re making an untrue health claim by implication, and that’s something that labeling laws prohibit.

    Should I be able to label my milk as Ebola-free?

    I hate teh evil megacorp as much as the next guy, but come on…

  70. kimsama says:

    @Mr. Gunn: That’s a straw man argument — after all, aren’t MSG-free foods labeled as such? By your argument, that should be illegal since it is an FDA-approved additive. If that’s not making an implicit health claim, I don’t know what is, and clearly it sets a precedent for informational labels.

    I’m all for you guys getting your rBST, I just think each consumer should have the information they need to make their own choices, based on their own judgment (and not the daddy-state judgment of the FDA or Monsanto).

  71. cerbie says:

    @Mr. Gunn: yes, label your milk as Ebola free. If we start feeling we should be concerned about Ebola in our milk, yours will be the milk of choice.

  72. ajacs says:

    We don’t have to be on Monsanto’s side in order to be suspicious of this bill. We shouldn’t have to choose between “no information” and “bad information.” The label “rBST-free” has no meaning, because rBST doesn’t show up in milk even if the cow was treated with it. The label creates a false impression that milk without the label DOES contain rBST, which is not true. It also implies that rBST is necessarily bad, which, Monsanto’s tomfoolery aside, has not yet been proven.

    “No rBST Used”, or “Not from cows treated with rBST” should be an adequate label (and is not illegal under this law). Anyone who wants more than that should simply pick an Organic Certifier they trust, and look for that label.