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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Got cloned milk?

On the heels of FDA's preliminary approval for meat and milk from cloned animals, which will be allowed into the food supply without labeling if given final approval, the nation's largest dairy company announced Feb. 22 that it will refuse milk from cloned cows.

Dallas-based Dean Foods, which owns Horizon Organic and Land O'Lakes, issued a statement saying, "Numerous surveys have shown that Americans are not interested in buying dairy products that contain milk from cloned cows, and Dean Foods is responding to the needs of our customers."

The preliminary approval for cloned foods, based on FDA's initial finding that there are no significant differences between cloned and non-cloned animals, has been widely criticized, particularly by the organic dairy segment.

"Currently, there is no regulation preventing cloned food from entering the nation's food supply," said Albert Strauss, president of Strauss Family Creamery, an organic dairy company based in Marshall, Calif. "In contrast, we've thoroughly examined our animal breeding practices and we are not using any cloned methods, nor do we intend to. We require written assurances from our suppliers that all materials used in insemination are GMO-free."

In related news, on Feb. 20 three major advocacy organizations filed a citizen's petition with FDA seeking the withdrawal of approval for Posilac, Monsanto's trademark for Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, or rBGH.

Milk from cows treated with rBGH was originally approved by FDA without labeling on the grounds that it is indistinguishable from conventional milk. However, the new petition, filed by the Cancer Prevention Coalition, the Organic Consumers Association, and Family Farm Defenders, contends that there are increased levels of IGF-1 and other abnormalities in milk from rGBH-treated cows, and that these abnormalities put consumers at an increased risk of cancer, particularly breast, colon and prostate cancer.

"There is so much evidence that rGBH is unsafe that labeling isn't enough at this point," said John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders, based in Madison, Wis. "It should be banned as proven unsafe for humans. A number of scientists have found many health problems associated with bovine growth hormone, but the people granting approval have listened only to positive research given to them by Monsanto."

In addition to human health issues, Kinsman, a farmer, is concerned with rGBH's affect on the health of animals. "Farmers are beginning to realize that this product doesn't put net income into pockets," he said. "It may increase output for a short time, but cows' lives are shortened by a great deal when rGBH is used."

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