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Farmers Pleased Monsanto is Getting Out of Cow Hormone Business

A group of Ontario farmers is claiming victory after Monsanto Co. agreed to sell its Posilac brand of synthetic cow hormones to drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. for $300 million.

Dave Mackay, president of the Renfrew County chapter of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and a former dairy farmer in Beachburg, Ont., told CBC News Friday that the sale is good news. Mackay, now a sheep farmer with a flock of 300, speaks for 150 farmers in Renfrew County.

"We think it's a bit of a victory," he said from his 200-acre farm near Pembroke, Ont. "We are pleased. I think we have won. Obviously, these guys are moving on."

Monsanto, an agricultural chemical company, announced the sale on Wednesday. It said the Posilac brand will become part of Lilly's Elanco animal health unit.

Posilac is the trade name of recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, a hormone that increases milk production in cows. Monsanto has called it the leading dairy animal supplement in the U.S., with more than half a billion units used by dairy farmers since the product was approved for use in the U.S. in 1994.

Health Canada banned the use of rBST in 1998.

Mackay said he thinks Monsanto is getting out of the hormone business because of ongoing public opposition.

He said the NFU opposed the introduction of the hormone and took part in a national campaign, involving about 60 organizations, to convince the federal government to ban its use on Canadian dairy farms.

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