Milk: A Play in Several Acts
Enter stage left: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declares in late 1993 that synthetic growth hormones are safe to use on cows for increased milk production. They go by a few names: rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) and Posilac, the preferred name over at Agro bio-tech giant Monsanto.
After the FDA approval, Monsanto introduces Posilac to the food supply in 1994.
Meanwhile, retail sales of organic milk grow steadily, with sales of organic milk and cream edging over $1 billion in 2005, up 25 percent from 2004 [PDF]. Between 1998 and 2005, the average annual growth rate of retail sales of all organic food has been 18 percent. (Source: Economic Research Service of the USDA)
In his Dec. 2007 statement to the Ohio Dairy Labeling Advisory Committee, Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, testified the following:
In June, 2007, the Consumer Reports National Research Center polled over 1,000 people nationwide on various food labeling issues [PDF]; some 76% of those polled were concerned with "dairy cows given synthetic growth hormones" and 88% agreed that "milk from cows raised without synthetic bovine growth hormone should be allowed to be labeled as such.
Monsanto files a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that hormone-free milk labeling is misleading the public and is "false and deceptive advertising." Its request for a formal investigation is denied [PDF].
In March, Wal-Mart announces that its private-label milk is now rBGH-free, regardless of the label controversy.
With the labeling flap making matters even more confusing, here's a state-by-state map of brands, stores and producers selling milk without rBGH.
And if you're in need of some levity after sitting through this Greek dairy tragedy, check out this cheeky online video, The Meatrix: 2, a tragicomic trilogy on factory farming produced by Free Range Studios.
Now who wants a milk shake?
By Kim ODonnel |
April 3, 2008; 10:24 AM ET
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