The following on rBST is from Richard Wolfson's newsletter

U.S. and Europe Agree to Disagree on Safety of Dairy Hormone

Action by U.N. Food Body Means Disputes About Safety of Hormone in Milk
Will Linger

YONKERS, NY, June 30, 1999: Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports,
praised a decision today by the U.N.'s main food safety body, the Codex
Alimentarius Commission, not to endorse the safety of recombinant bovine
growth hormone (rbGH), a genetically-engineered hormone produced by
Monsanto that is designed to increase dairy cows' milk output.

Codex officially agreed to shelve any further discussion of a U.S.-backed
proposal to set a Maximum Residue Level for rbGH--known as bovine
somatropin (BST) in Europe--in milk in light of vigorous opposition from
other nations that still question the hormone's safety. By indefinitely
shelving the proposal, Codex acknowledged the deep division between
countries such as the U.S., that insist rbGH is safe and countries like
those of the European Union, where rbGH has not been approved due to
nagging safety concerns.

"By refusing to set a standard today, Codex has recognized that there is no
consensus on rbGH safety in the international scientific community, and
that national governments should be able to decide whether rbGH should be
permitted in their milk supply," said Jean Halloran, Director of the
Consumer Policy Institute at Consumers Union.

The U.S. has pushed Codex to adopt a standard to ensure the continued
export of its dairy products from cows treated with the rbGH drug. However,
U.S.-driven efforts to persuade the international community that rbGH is
safe have been blocked twice before at Codex, in 1995 and again in 1997,
primarily by opposition from European governments.

Today's action by Codex leaves the door open for countries to exclude dairy
imports treated with the hormone. While rbGH is not yet the subject of a
trade dispute like the one currently pending on hormones used on beef
cattle, it could erupt as a future trade issue.

In countries where rbGH is legal, including the U.S., Mexico, and South
Africa, the hormone is injected into dairy cows to raise milk production.
In the U.S., where rbGH use has been approved since 1993, the government
has repeatedly argued that the hormone's use poses no significant risks to
public health, and that its risks to the health of dairy cattle are

However the controversial hormone has been banned in Canada and its use is
subject to a moratorium the European Union. The EU has already issued two
detailed scientific reports raising questions about human and animal health
issues that arise when the hormone is used, and will decide at the end of
1999 whether to continue its current moratorium. Canada banned the hormone
in January on grounds of its effects on the health of dairy cows, because
cows treated with rbGH are more likely to contract udder infections which
are treated with antibiotics.

Consumers Union advocates labeling dairy products from rbGH-treated cows.
Today at the Codex meeting, the U.S. acknowledged that consumers in many
countries oppose rbGH use because of possible public health impacts, animal
welfare concerns, or both. The U.S. has argued in written comments to Codex
that milk and dairy products can be labeled at the national level to
address these consumer concerns.

"We are gratified that the international food safety process has held out
for a higher degree of consumer protection than the U.S. thinks is
necessary," said CU's Jean Halloran. She added, "Consumers around the world
should thank the Codex Commission for its common sense. And Consumers in
the U.S. will most likely want to start a dialogue with our government to
explore labeling as one way to address consumer concerns about rbGH."


PRESS RELEASE 30th June 1999


Governments attending the biennial Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in
Rome failed to agree on an international standard on BST (Bovine
Somatotropin) which is used to increase cows' milk production. The Codex
Alimentarius Commission is the main United Nations body that sets
international food standards.

Failure to agree to what is known as a Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for BST
means that governments will have much more leeway at the national level to
decide whether to allow the use of BST in their countries. Already, the
European Union has a moratorium on its use in the EU and Canadian
regulators have rejected Monsanto's request for its approval. However it is
widely used in the United States.

The discussion at Codex today was unexpectedly brief with the United States
immediately proposing, in view of the lack of consensus, that no standard
be adopted. This was supported by the European Union and then adopted by
the meeting. A long debate had been expected between the EU and the US. The
US proposal took the meeting by surprise, as in previous discussions on
this issue they had argued strongly for Codex to adopt a standard .

Consumers International, the federation of 245 consumer organisations in
110 countries, welcomes this decision and sees it as a victory for the
health and safety of consumers. "With this decision Codex has taken an
important step in listening to the concerns of consumers. Consumers
International applauds this result and the fact that national governments
will be able to act to ensure that their citizens are not forced to consume
products produced with the use of BST" said Julian Edwards, Director
General of Consumers International

The hormone has been widely criticised for its detrimental effects on
animal welfare and could pose possible health hazards to those who drink
the milk. Consumers International believes the hormones have not been
proven to be safe. The adoption of a standard would have asserted that the
hormone was safe to use and countries refusing to import dairy products
from countries where BST is used could be brought before the World Trade
Organisation on the grounds they are creating a barrier to trade.


For further information, visit Consumers International's website,

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed for research and educational purposes only. **

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596