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Organic Consumers Association

Pennsylvania Ag Bureaucrats Move to Squelch rBGH-Free Labels on Behalf of Monsanto

Web Note: From Rick North
re "PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE STRIKES DOWN rBGH-FREE LABELING"

Everyone: ­ This is about as serious as it gets. Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture (PDA) announced new regulations that appear to prohibit any kind of rBGH-free labeling on dairy products, including "rBGH (rBST)-Free" and wording such as "Our farmers pledge not to use . . ." The press release is attached.

The PDA examined labeling of 140 companies and decided that 16 didn't comply with their new regulations. Of the 16, seven are headquartered in Pennsylvania and nine in other states that sell products there. The PDA has given these 16 until Dec. 31, 2007 to change their labels.

The rationale given is that current labeling is "making it hard for consumers to make informed decisions." This statement can best be characterized as the brown substance that comes out of the back end of a male bovine.

This has nothing to do with protecting consumers. It's all about suppressing information that allows consumers to make an educated choice about which dairy products to buy. Obviously, Monsanto's cronies have been working hard to pressure Pennsylvania to take steps to stop the tidal wave of dairy processors going rBGH-free. Their solution to consumers flocking to rBGH-free products? Make it impossible for them to tell the difference by eliminating  the labels.

This regulation, incredibly, goes against the rulings of both the FDA and FTC earlier this year that almost all current rBGH-free labeling is appropriate and legal.

Oregon PSR will do everything possible to counter this outrage.

The press release is below:


The rationale given is that current labeling is "making it hard for consumers to make informed decisions." This statement can best be characterized as the brown substance that comes out of the back end of a male bovine.

This has nothing to do with protecting consumers. It's all about suppressing information that allows consumers to make an educated choice about which dairy products to buy. Obviously, Monsanto's cronies have been working hard to pressure Pennsylvania to take steps to stop the tidal wave of dairy processors going rBGH-free. Their solution to consumers flocking to rBGH-free products? Make it impossible for them to tell the difference by eliminating  the labels.

This regulation, incredibly, goes against the rulings of both the FDA and FTC earlier this year that almost all current rBGH-free labeling is appropriate and legal.

Oregon PSR will do everything possible to counter this outrage.

The press release is below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Oct. 24, 2007
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Department of Agriculture                
Commonwealth News Bureau - Room 308, Main Capitol                
Harrisburg, PA  17120
CONTACT: Chris L. Ryder                
(717) 787-5085               

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT NOTIFIES COMPANIES ABOUT FALSE OR MISLEADING MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCT LABELS

HARRISBURG ­ The Department of Agriculture has notified some dairies that sell milk in Pennsylvania that their labels are false or misleading and need to be changed, said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff today.

Of the 140 dairy companies whose labels have been reviewed to date, Wolff said 16 use labels that are considered inaccurate or misleading because they contain claims that cannot be verified or implying that their product is safer than others through 'absence labeling' ­ telling consumers what is not present in the milk as opposed to what is.

Wolff said claims such as "antibiotic-free" and "pesticide-free" are misleading because all processed milk sold in Pennsylvania is tested a minimum of 10 times to guarantee that it is free of such substances, which are illegal for milk to contain.

"Consumers rely upon the labeling of a product to make decisions about what they buy and what to feed their families," said Wolff.  "The department must approve the labels for milk sold in Pennsylvania and we're seeing more and more marketing that is making it hard for consumers to make informed decisions."

Label claims that are inaccurate or that cannot be verified are also being seen in the marketplace.  For example, some milk labels contain statements such as "hormone-free," but all milk contains hormones.  Some labels also claim the absence of synthetic hormones, but there is no scientific test that can determine the truth of this claim.

In addition, Wolff said some of the mislabeled products cost more than those labeled correctly.  This has become a degrading factor for low-income families who want to buy safe food for their children but cannot afford more expensive milk that is misleadingly or inaccurately marketed as a safer product.

The Department of Agriculture convened a Food Labeling Advisory Committee made up of dietitians, consumer advocates and food industry representatives earlier this month to discuss potentially misleading labels.  The committee urged Wolff to explore the department's authority in labeling oversight.

The department has authority over food labeling through the Pennsylvania Food Act and the milk sanitation law.  Specific to milk and dairy products sold in the state, the department has the authority to disapprove any label deemed false or misleading.

"Consumers are concerned or confused about product labeling," said Wolff. "It's a subject the department continues to receive many calls about."

The 16 permit holders whose products are mislabeled are located in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts and will have until Jan. 1 to correct the labels.

For more information on the department's food labeling actions, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us
or
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/ 
and click on "Food Labeling."

For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website using keywords:

teacherboy
post Nov 1 2007, 07:57 PM



And it's not misleading to label Halloween candy as "A Fat-Free Food"?

dairydiva
post Nov 5 2007, 05:31 PM


Where in the article does it mention not allowing companies to label milk as rbGH-free (rbST-free)? It mentions mislabelings such as antibiotic-free (which all milk is antibiotic-free anyway) and hormone-free (which no plant or animal products are).

ttdaane
post Nov 5 2007, 05:32 PM


We need to fight for our rights to know what is in our foods!

ladycat
post Nov 5 2007, 06:36 PM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 5 2007, 12:31 PM) *
Where in the article does it mention not allowing companies to label milk as rbGH-free (rbST-free)? It mentions mislabelings such as antibiotic-free (which all milk is antibiotic-free anyway) and hormone-free (which no plant or animal products are).

Monsanto has been trying to force that issue for a while, now. It's been in a lot of different press releases.

Here's one of many articles:

http://www.capitalpress.info/main.asp?Sect...amp;TM=16126.53


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InsideOut
post Nov 5 2007, 06:42 PM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 5 2007, 10:31 AM) *
Where in the article does it mention not allowing companies to label milk as rbGH-free (rbST-free)? It mentions mislabelings such as antibiotic-free (which all milk is antibiotic-free anyway) and hormone-free (which no plant or animal products are).



Hi, dairydiva. Welcome to the forum.

I think they are specifically discussing "added" hormones rather than those occuring naturally as a function of growth and development.


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House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs.


diana
post Nov 5 2007, 07:07 PM


Hey, wait. Isn't rBGH/rBST considered a *hormone*? Sure, it'd be hard to test for the absence of ALL hormones, since cows have 'em. But it is not remotely difficult to credibly say "rBGH/ rBST Free Milk."

There's some weird obfuscation going on here, and I'd really like some light shed on it. The two sides are using completely different words, and something needs added to tie the two arguments together. Otherwise it smells of very sour milk, and my inclination is to trust OCA, with the expectation that leaders here will clarify. --diana

Craig Minowa
post Nov 5 2007, 07:33 PM


Hello,
Thanks for the great discussion. I'd like to elaborate on this to help clarify. First off, I have posted a list of the dairies that are being told they have illegal labeling (below). As you can see, it is quite a diversity. This movement in Pennsylvania was spearheaded by hormone reliant dairy agribusiness that is increasingly losing profits due to the fact that consumers are looking for the types of labels you see below. As a note on that, today Chipotle announced they will be rBGH-free within two months. The list continues to grow.

PENNSYLVANIA AG DEPT SAYS THESE LABELS ARE ILLEGAL AND MISLEADING:

Crowley Foods, Binghamton, N.Y.: "Crowley's farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones."

Cumberland Dairy, Rosenhayn, N.J.: "Our farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones. Milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH."

Dean Northeast, Franklin, Mass.: "Our farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones. Milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH."

Farmland Dairies, Wallington, N.J.: "Free of artificial growth hormones. Free of antibiotics."

G.A.F., Seelig, Woodside, N.Y.: "It is the policy of G.A.F. Seelig, Inc. to only offer milk that is rBST ? rBHH and antibiotic free."

Garelick Farms N.J. Division, Burlington, N.J.: "Our farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones."

Harrisburg Dairies, Harrisburg, Pa.: "RBST FREE".

High View, T/A Vale Wood Farms, Cresson, Pa.: "rBST-hormone-free cows. Milk from cows not treated with rBST hormone."

Hope Acres Dairy, Brogue, Pa.: "No added BST."
Mountainside Farms, Jamaica, N.J.: "No hormones added. No antibiotics."

Perrydell Farm Dairy, York, Pa.: "rBST Free."

Rosenberger's Dairies, Hatfield, Pa.: "Rosenberger's farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones."

Rutter Bros. Dairy, York, Pa.: "No artificial growth hormones."

Schneider's Dairy, Pittsburgh, Pa.: "Free of antibiotics and the growth hormone rBST."

Upstate Farms Coop, Buffalo, N.Y.: "From cows not treated with synthetic growth hormones."

Wade's Dairy, Bridgeport, Conn.: "From cows not treated with the growth hormone rBST."

Craig Minowa
Environmental Scientist
Organic Consumers Association
http://www.organicconsumers.org

ladycat
post Nov 5 2007, 08:21 PM


One argument that really irritates me: dairy farmers and Monsanto keep saying that it's a natural hormone produced by cows. But it's NOT a natural hormone. The "r" in rBST/rBGH means "recombinant". Cows do not naturally produce recombinant hormones.


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►►►Come join us at A Fabulously Fun FRIENDLY Christian Forum◄◄◄

Robin
post Nov 5 2007, 10:44 PM


Monsanto sued a Maine dairy, Oakhurst. Monsanto is a huge bully. Oakhurst is a family owned dairy business. OCA has a stories about the suit. Oakhust doesn't allow rBST and said so on the label. Monsanto said that makes it appear that using rBST is harmful. Monsanto won. Oakhurst had to change the wording on its label.

Monsanto's bullying of Maine Dairy Backfiring

Time Magazine Covers the Monsanto-Oakhurst Dairy Story


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dairydiva
post Nov 6 2007, 04:10 PM


QUOTE (InsideOut @ Nov 5 2007, 02:42 PM) *
Hi, dairydiva. Welcome to the forum.

I think they are specifically discussing "added" hormones rather than those occuring naturally as a function of growth and development.



I understand what they are trying to say but "hormone" to the average consumer is a scary word, regardless of the fact they are naturally produced. Saying "no added hormone" or "hormone-free" sounds as if other milk has hormones poured into the milk before its bottled.

InsideOut
post Nov 6 2007, 06:24 PM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 6 2007, 09:10 AM) *
I understand what they are trying to say but "hormone" to the average consumer is a scary word, regardless of the fact they are naturally produced. Saying "no added hormone" or "hormone-free" sounds as if other milk has hormones poured into the milk before its bottled.


I think the idea of ANY added non-naturally occuring hormone is inconsistent with what Organic Consumers want. Organic is not just a set of rules, it is a value. One common thread is wanting foods to be as close as possible to what would happen in an early or pre-industrial production model. Think Amish. Think smaller scale. Think hands on husbandry.

To those whose values are consistent with true, old school, pre-NOP organic, any added hormone is as bad as pouring it in to each individual sales unit of milk.


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House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs.


dairydiva
post Nov 6 2007, 06:50 PM


QUOTE (InsideOut @ Nov 6 2007, 02:24 PM) *
I think the idea of ANY added non-naturally occuring hormone is inconsistent with what Organic Consumers want. Organic is not just a set of rules, it is a value. One common thread is wanting foods to be as close as possible to what would happen in an early or pre-industrial production model. Think Amish. Think smaller scale. Think hands on husbandry.

To those whose values are consistent with true, old school, pre-NOP organic, any added hormone is as bad as pouring it in to each individual sales unit of milk.



I work with Amish and small scale farms on a daily basis. Amish can use rbST just like any other farmer if they wish. All the farmers I work with are hands on with all their operations. Farmers are committed to providing safe, wholesome products to consumers. The largest reason for using rbST on a farm is to improve revenue because the amount of money the farmer receives from a gallon of milk sold is about 10% of the price the consumer pays. When farmers are not allowed to use these technologies, they risk going out of business (especially the small farmers) because the farmer receives no/little compensation for not using technologies such as rbST. The processor and stores benefit by charging more for these products but that added amount is not returned to the farmer who gave up the technology. Shouldn't the farmer be the one who receives the added compensation of providing that product without using rbST?

Robin
post Nov 6 2007, 07:07 PM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 6 2007, 12:10 PM) *
I understand what they are trying to say but "hormone" to the average consumer is a scary word, regardless of the fact they are naturally produced. Saying "no added hormone" or "hormone-free" sounds as if other milk has hormones poured into the milk before its bottled.

I think consumers are learning more about what they're eating and drinking, including what goes into milk production. As this happens fewer are going to want an unnatural thing like rBST in their milk even if it appears to be no different. A lot of us don't want artificial coloring and flavoring. We don't want GMO. We don't want rBST. If other dairies are all that concerned about what someone might think they can add "no added hormones" to their labels too. I understand how little some farmers are making but that's a business choice they have to control. I don't begrudge anyone the use of rBST, but I'm not drinking their milk.


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InsideOut
post Nov 6 2007, 07:24 PM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 6 2007, 11:50 AM) *
I work with Amish and small scale farms on a daily basis. Amish can use rbST just like any other farmer if they wish. All the farmers I work with are hands on with all their operations. Farmers are committed to providing safe, wholesome products to consumers. The largest reason for using rbST on a farm is to improve revenue because the amount of money the farmer receives from a gallon of milk sold is about 10% of the price the consumer pays. When farmers are not allowed to use these technologies, they risk going out of business (especially the small farmers) because the farmer receives no/little compensation for not using technologies such as rbST. The processor and stores benefit by charging more for these products but that added amount is not returned to the farmer who gave up the technology. Shouldn't the farmer be the one who receives the added compensation of providing that product without using rbST?


The problem isn't the output some much as the market. By investing in technology to increase output is, by design, intended to reduce labor input. Not to say that any farmer doesn't work hard--they do. Whether they hand hoe row crops or trek along with ATV's spraying the latest agri-chem dynamo: Ag is hard work. But if one is using technology to increase output, they are distancing themselves from the process of production by relying on labs. They have out-source their wisdom to a non-organic value system.

Your points are valid and make sense in a conventional model of production and consumption. But those who value organic as a concept wish to de-commodify the fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products we glean from the land. That is a heavy concept. DE-COMMODIFY. Cargill, monsanto, Con-Agra... they all do not like the sound of it. Heck... the regional distributors around here hate the direct marketing my company tries to do for our growers.

Here is the real economic evil: mark-up. By selling as a commodity, one gives up the control and destination of a ag product. We recently sold roughly 150K pounds of berries to a broker as a commodity--they went to another broker... then another... then to a fruit packer 30 miles from our plant. The imbedded costs of commodities are the egregious aspect of our conventional system... not output.

We and our growers make more money on the direct marketed products. We are taking control, putting more of our hands onto the production, processing and marketing of the products. We hear consumers telling us they want and we make it happen. The margins go up because a direct relationship is formed.

If it is all about the money (which it is for Agri-Biz) then it is an unsustainable business model for the producer. The system is not in your favor. Increased production decreases margin because price drops when supply side increases. Worse yet, increased production establishes new yeild expectations that FORCE continued use of agri-chemicals. It is a viscious, un-natural cycle that is simply not consistent with organic.

Your reasoning is sound in the conventional market--but this is not a conventional forum.

Oh yeah--I'm surprised to hear that Amish are using bio-tech. I was under the (mis? understanding they didn't use technologies developed after the 1880's or so. Not including RUM-SPRING-AH (phonetically spelled... I don't recall how to spell it). But thanks for the correction. I'll not look to them for advice after all.


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House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs.


ladycat
post Nov 6 2007, 08:10 PM


QUOTE (InsideOut @ Nov 6 2007, 02:24 PM) *
Oh yeah--I'm surprised to hear that Amish are using bio-tech. I was under the (mis? understanding they didn't use technologies developed after the 1880's or so. Not including RUM-SPRING-AH (phonetically spelled... I don't recall how to spell it). But thanks for the correction. I'll not look to them for advice after all.

Most of them use modern farming methods, including tractors, electric milkers (they have electricity in their barns, just not in their house), pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Even though they don't use electricity in their houses, they use butane gas, and they have gas refrigerators, freezers, and other modern appliances. A great many Amish communities are using cell phones. They just won't use regular phones because they don't want the wires in their house.

They also have computers at their places of business (and with their farms shrinking, more and more are working outside their homes. Many Amish aren't farming at all).

Amish are very modern in many ways.


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InsideOut
post Nov 6 2007, 08:35 PM


QUOTE (ladycat @ Nov 6 2007, 01:10 PM) *
Most of them use modern farming methods, including tractors, electric milkers (they have electricity in their barns, just not in their house), pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Even though they don't use electricity in their houses, they use butane gas, and they have gas refrigerators, freezers, and other modern appliances. A great many Amish communities are using cell phones. They just won't use regular phones because they don't want the wires in their house.

They also have computers at their places of business (and with their farms shrinking, more and more are working outside their homes. Many Amish aren't farming at all).

Amish are very modern in many ways.


That's what I get for stero-typing. Thanks for keeping me up-to-date, all!


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House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs.


ladycat
post Nov 23 2007, 01:41 AM


Speaking of the Amish, looks like they're trying to recapture some of their traditional farming methods that they had been slowly abandoning:

http://www.ohio.com/news/ap?articleID=235026&c=y


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InsideOut
post Nov 26 2007, 09:36 PM


QUOTE (ladycat @ Nov 22 2007, 06:41 PM) *
Speaking of the Amish, looks like they're trying to recapture some of their traditional farming methods that they had been slowly abandoning:

http://www.ohio.com/news/ap?articleID=235026&c=y


There is an opportunity for agri-tourism.


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House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs.


nosmokes
post Nov 27 2007, 12:40 AM


Having grown up in Alabama I was always a little mystified about the romance factor involved w/ a group of baptists even more backwards than the ones I grew up with that wore sheets and pointy hats, burned their crosses and played with snakes while hollerin gibberish... ohmy.gif

That said, If the Amish are using rBGH how are they treating the mastitis and bone disease that invariably follows as well as the lower birth rates caused by the Posilac?


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Support your local familly farmers.

diana
post Nov 27 2007, 12:59 AM


QUOTE (dairydiva @ Nov 6 2007, 06:50 PM) *
The largest reason for using rbST on a farm is to improve revenue because the amount of money the farmer receives from a gallon of milk sold is about 10% of the price the consumer pays. When farmers are not allowed to use these technologies, they risk going out of business (especially the small farmers) because the farmer receives no/little compensation for not using technologies such as rbST. The processor and stores benefit by charging more for these products but that added amount is not returned to the farmer who gave up the technology. Shouldn't the farmer be the one who receives the added compensation of providing that product without using rbST?


It's not really an either/ or, but I do like your points. We could solve a great deal if farmers were to sell directly to consumers. In the hemp thread here, some were very much for porcessing on the farm, on-site. So why couldn't dairies ultimately be set up to process, too?

We could solve a great deal if we could get all those blasted middle people out, because that's a huge buch of money not going to the farmer right there. And we could subsidize sensible farming rather than subbing Monsanto. The system is not fair -- but it makes no sense to poison one's cows and the consumers who drink the milk. And that, really, is what rBST does. --diana