Outcry forces change: Milk in PA can claim ‘no rBST, no hormones’ after all

January 18, 2008

The Pennsylvania Agriculture Department announced Thursday it was loosening a rule that would have prevented dairies from labeling milk as free from artificial growth hormones.

The labeling rule drew a backlash from producers and marketers who said they wanted to give customers a choice, and the state agency responded by allowing such claims as long as a disclaimer accompanies it.

Governor 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, rBST, marketed as Posilac, is used on about one-third of U.S. dairy herds, according to the manufacturer, St. Louis-based Monsanto. Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20080117_Pa__backs_off_milk-label_change.html

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