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Monsanto Continues Battle to Deny Consumers' Right to Know Whether Their Milk is Tainted by Growth Hormone

They say a wounded animal is the most dangerous. Judging by the amount of effort that Monsanto, their lobbyists and friends are putting in to enacting state bills or rules restricting rBGH-free type of labeling, they're wounded pretty badly. This is also demonstrated by the list below of the largest 100 dairy processors in the country who've gone completely or partially rBGH-free -  we're now up to 37 out of the top 100.

Here's a list of states and what's been going on:

October
Pennsylvania - Dept. of Agriculture introduces rules banning any kind of rBGH-free type of labeling; in January, all rules are rescinded, but the totally inaccurate FDA disclaimer that rBGH and rBGH-free products show no significant difference is required

November - December
New Jersey - Dept. of Agriculture holds meetings discussing labeling; no action is taken Ohio ­ Dept. of Agriculture holds meetings; sets rules in February that restricts labeling, makes FDA disclaimer mandatory

January ­ - February
Indiana ­ Introduces bill to ban rBGH-free type of labeling; temporarily stopped Kansas ­ Introduces bill to ban rBGH-free type of labeling; hearing coming up Vermont ­ Introduces bill to ban rBGH-free type of labeling and advertising; assigned to committee Utah ­ Dept. of Agriculture holds meetings; drafts rule that restricts labeling; hearing coming up Feb. 26

ALL these efforts are attempting to take away the consumers' right to know what's in their foods and how they're produced. I'm not going to sugar-coat this. Although we've enjoyed a remarkable level of success in fighting Monsanto's attempts, this is one of the most serious challenges we've ever faced. This is nothing short of censorship, suppressing the freedom of speech of dairies and farmers and their ability to simply tell the truth on their labels.

Oregon PSR has been in the forefront of fighting this censorship. We've coordinated conference calls, recruited and organized grass roots opposition in the states, provided materials for legislators and state officials and testified at meetings. We are working closely with a committed, wonderful group of food safety, consumer and animal protection organizations around the country who are all united in the belief that we must win these battles.

Meanwhile, we keep winning in the marketplace. Foremost Farms USA, based in Wisconsin, just announced that they were starting a line of rBGH-free products. Foremost is the 13th largest processor in the country. This was at least partially motivated by a hospital chain in Wisconsin asking them to do this. The hospitals had all signed a Health Care Without Harm pledge saying they would move in the direction of rBGH-free and take other steps toward promoting more sustainable agriculture.

Utah is coming up ­ if you know anyone in Utah or any organization that would be willing to help us oppose Monsanto's efforts, please contact me as soon as possible by e-mail or phone. Thank you!

Rick

Rick North, Project Director ­
Campaign For Safe Food
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
503-968-1520
hrnorth@hevanet.com

rBGH- (rBST-)Free Dairy Processors

Top 100 List (as of 2/15/08)

Number = Rank by total dairy sales (2006 figures)

P = Partially rBGH-free   C = Completely rBGH-free

1.    Dean Foods ­ P

2.    Kraft ­ P (as of 6/08)

5.       Kroger ­ P (all fluid milk as of 2/08)

6.       Dairy Farmers of America ­ P

7.       HP Hood ­ P

11.  Darigold ­ P (C as of 1/09)

12.  Prairie Farms Dairy ­ C

13.  Foremost Farms USA - P

14.  National Dairy Holdings ­ P

16.  California Dairies, Inc. ­ C

18.  Safeway Dairy Group ­ P

30.  Publix Super Markets ­ C

41.  Foster Farms Dairy - C

42.  Tillamook County Creamery Assoc. ­ P

43.  Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. ­ C

46.  Farmland Dairies, LLC ­ C

49.  Upstate Farm Cooperative, Inc. ­ P

50.  Bongards Creameries - P

52.  Shamrock Farms - C

53.  Stonyfield Farm, Inc. ­ C

54.  Turner Holdings, Inc. ­ C

57.  Crystal Cream & Butter Co. - C

58.  Michigan Milk Producers Assoc. ­ C

59.  Wilcox Farms ­ C

62.  Gossner Foods, Inc. ­ C

66.  Anderson Erickson Dairy ­ P

68.  Producers Dairy Foods, Inc. - C

72.  BelGioioso Cheese Inc. - C

73.  Cloverland/Green Spring Dairy ­ C

74.  Smith Dairy Products ­ P

76.  Giant Foods LLC - P

81.  United Dairy Farmers, Inc. - C

85.  Oakhurst Dairy ­ C

88.  Wawa Dairy ­ C

90.  Plainview Milk Products Co-Op - C

92.  Joseph Gallo Farms ­ C

97.  Oberweis Dairy Inc. ­ C

Notes:
1.     Most of the processors listed above have gone rBGH-free in the past two years.
2.     Two major retailers are rBGH-free that will have nationwide ripple effects. Starbucks company stores are 100% rBGH-free, as of 12/31/07. Chipotle Restaurants, one of the fastest-growing chains in the country, is completely rBGH-free for all their dairy products, also as of 12/31/07.

(Compiled by Rick North and Amanda Lawrence, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, 503-968-1520, hrnorth@hevanet.com. Top 100 list from Information Resources, Inc.)