Organic Consumers Association

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Another Defeat for Monsanto: Ohio Backs Off on Banning rBGH-Free Labels

Consumers now can easily find out whether the dairy products they buy in Ohio come from cows not treated with synthetic hormones.

New, temporary rules enacted today by the state allow dairy-product labels to include specific language addressing the absence of hormones used to stimulate milk production.

The rules, expected to be made permanent, mark the resolution of a contentious issue that pitted dairy farmers who treat their cows with the synthetic hormones against those who do not.

It was a win for those who advocated consumer choice and the right to know how food is produced.

The language allowed on labels is limited to the statement "from cows not supplemented with rbST," the synthetic hormone, when the statement is verifiable, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said.

The labels also have to include, on the same panel and in the same kind and color of type, a federal Food and Drug Administration disclaimer that says, "no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-supplemented and non-rbST-supplemented cows." Companies marketing or labeling dairy products also must have documentation - including farmer-signed affidavits, farm weight tickets and processing plant audit trails - to substantiate the label claims.

"We struggled hard with this issue," said Robert Boggs, agriculture director, during a conference call. The rules were based on consumers' right to have information about the products they consume, he said, and the constitutional right of free speech.

Both camps seemed reconciled to the outcome.

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