May I offer the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a pat on the back? The court just made it easier for consumers to choose drug-free milk, by striking down a proposed Ohio state ban that prohibited dairy not treated with bovine growth hormone from being labeled as such.
The initial legislation is the result of Monsanto’s aggressive lobbying (before the evil agro-giant sold off its rbGH division) to make such claims illegal. The ban nearly passed in Ohio until the Organic Trade Association fought back by filing a claim against Ohio’s director of agriculture stating such a move would violate dairy processors’ First Amendment rights.
Last week, the court sided with the OTA after more than two years of legislation, and what’s more, after being supplied with information by the Center for Food Safety, found compositional differences between milk from cows treated with hormones and hormone-free milk. The decision contradicts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s finding that there are no significant differences between these milks. While most other countries did away with rbST and rbGH long ago, in the States, the hormones can still be found in products with “all natural” labels such as Breyers Ice Cream.
Some of the differences the court found in rbST/rbGH-laden milk include the hormone IGF-1, which is correlated with cancer, lower nutritional quality, and because the cows often get udder infections, more pus in the milk. Kinda makes you think twice about donning that milk moustache, doesn’t it?
Even better, the case is drawing attention to other food-labeling issues such as the current controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods. With the threat of the un-labeled “Frankenfish” aka GE-salmon on the horizon, the more consumers plug into what they’re eating and where it comes from, the more likely manufacturers will listen and deliver what buyers want.