18 January 2008

Pennsylvania decides Consumer Education is OK afterall :)

As a follow-up to my previous freak-out that PA had passed legislation banning the use of the rBGH label on dairy products: for once, logic, consumer safety and education win out over Monsanto's ever growing profits. As Tom Philpott (of Grist) pointed out, these guys are a monopoly if the US has ever seen one...now, if only we could get our courts to uphold those darned anti-trust laws...

From an article out of yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pennsylvania agriculture officials backed down today from a controversial ban on milk labels that identify the milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic growth hormone.

The ban was to take effect Feb. 1, to the dismay of consumer activists and many smaller dairies who choose not to inject their cows with hormones. But the move was superseded by new standards issued today, after a review by the office of Gov. Rendell.

Rendell ordered the agency to review the policy after consumer outcry, his spokesman said

"The governor's position was relatively simple: he wanted the labels to be accurate and informative," said Rendell's press secretary Chuck Ardo.

Though labels are once again permitted to mention that hormones were not used, the standards require a disclaimer stating there is no difference in milk from cows injected with hormones and milk from cows that are not injected. Such disclaimers already are printed on many milk cartons.

"It's basically a complete back-down," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the nonprofit group Consumers Union, which had opposed the ban.

The agriculture department had issued the ban in October, arguing that a misleading impression might be conveyed by identifying milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic hormones. Pennsylvania would have been the first state to implement such a ban.

The synthetic hormones are said to boost milk production by about 10 percent, and were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994, though they are not allowed to be injected in Canada or Europe.

The product, which is marketed as Posilac, is used on about one-third of U.S. dairy herds, according to the manufacturer, St. Louis-based Monsanto.

The link to this story, by Tom Avril and Amy Worden, is here.



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