[Pharmwaste] 'Hormone free' milk labeling ban in PA postponed

Bowling, Patrick gbowling at state.pa.us
Thu Nov 29 13:12:03 EST 2007

Following up on a previous post...

'Hormone free' milk labeling ban postponed
Wire Report
Article Launched: 11/29/2007 12:39:31 PM EST
Original URL: http://www.eveningsun.com/localnews/ci_7590747

HARRISBURG (AP) -- The state is reconsidering a decision that would stop
dairies from labeling milk containers as hormone-free. 

The additional scrutiny by the Agriculture Department and governor's
office is expected to take two months or more, postponing the new rule
at least a month beyond its original Jan. 1 effective date. 

A spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell says opposition from rural lawmakers and
farm lobbyists prompted the additional review. 

"We've gotten feedback from a wide variety of people, both for and
against," state Agriculture Department spokesman Chris Ryder said

The department recently announced it would act against misleading labels
on dairy products, particularly claims that milk is free from artificial
growth hormones. 

Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said such claims are misleading to
the public and unfair to competitors - a brand calling itself free from
artificial hormones can imply that other milk is unsafe. Synthetic
hormones are injected into cows to improve milk production 
but have never been detected in milk. 

Consumer demand has resulted in more products being billed as
hormone-free. A recent national price survey found that hormone-free
milk prices were typically about 25 percent higher than milk without the

>  -----Original Message-----
> From: 	Bowling, Patrick  
> Sent:	Thursday, November 15, 2007 10:25 AM
> To:	'pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us'
> Subject:	Milk sold in PA can't be labeled "hormone-free"
> Apparently, a few other states are considering this, too.  At least
> one dairy chain in PA that does not use artificial growth hormones and
> wanted to advertise that was protesting this at the capitol this week.
> ========================
> Milk can't be labeled 'hormone-free'
> Associated Press Writer
> Article Launched: 11/14/2007 09:58:39 AM EST
> Original URL: http://www.eveningsun.com/localnews/ci_7459456
> HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania is stopping dairies from stamping milk
> containers with hormone-free labels in a precedent-setting decision
> being closely watched by the industry. 
> Synthetic hormones have been used to improve milk production in cows
> for more than a decade. The chemical has not been detected in milk, so
> there is no way to test for its use, but a growing number of retailers
> have been selling and promoting hormone-free products in response to
> consumer demand. 
> State Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said advertising one brand
> of milk as free from artificial hormones implies that competitors'
> milk is not safe, and often comes with what he said is an unjustified
> higher price. 
> "It's kind of like a nuclear arms race," Wolff said. "One dairy does
> it and the next tries to outdo them. It's absolutely crazy." 
> Agricultural regulators in at least two other states, New Jersey and
> Ohio, are considering following suit, the latest battle in a
> long-standing dispute over whether injecting cows with bovine growth
> hormone affects milk. 
> Effective Jan. 1, dairies selling milk in Pennsylvania, the nation's
> fifth-largest dairy state, will be banned from advertising on milk
> containers that their product comes from cows that have never been
> treated with rBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin. 
> The product, sold by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. under the brand name
> Posilac, is the country's largest-selling dairy pharmaceutical. 
> It has been approved for use in the U.S. since 1994, although safety
> concerns have spurred an increase in rBST-free product sales. The
> hormone is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan,
> largely out of concern that it may be harmful to herd health. 
> Monsanto spokesman Michael Doane said the Pennsylvania labeling
> restriction is "a landmark decision." 
> Last month, the Federal Trade Commission denied a request from
> Monsanto that it act against a half-dozen dairies for advertising milk
> as being free from synthetic hormones, but did warn a few small
> businesses about making unfounded claims against rBST. 
> The hormone-free label "implies to consumers, who may or may not be
> informed on these issues, that there's a health-and-safety difference
> between these two milks, that there's 'good' milk and 'bad' milk, and
> we know that's not the case," Doane said. 
> Rick North of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, a
> leading critic of the artificial growth hormone, called the
> Pennsylvania rules "censorship, pure and simple." 
> "This is a clear example of Monsanto's influence and what they're
> trying to do all over the country," he said. "They're getting
> clobbered in the marketplace by consumers everywhere wanting
> (synthetic-hormone)-free products." 
> Acting on a recommendation of an advisory panel, the Pennsylvania
> Agriculture Department has notified 16 dairies in Pennsylvania, New
> York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts that their labels were
> false or misleading and had to be changed by the end of December. 
> The order also bars other kinds of "absence labeling," including
> claims that milk is free of pesticides or antibiotics, which all milk
> normally is. 
> "There's absolutely no way to certify whether the milk is from cattle
> treated or not treated" with rBST, Wolff said. "Some of the dairies
> that have enforced this, it's absolutely the honor system." 
> Rutter's Dairy Inc., a central Pennsylvania company that sells about
> 300,000 gallons a week, began promoting its milk as free of artificial
> hormones this summer after requiring its 80 supplier farms to stop
> using rBST. 
> It has fired back at the state decision with full-page newspaper ads
> and a lobbying campaign to undo the new rule. It is also urging
> customers to protest. 
> "We just think the consumers are more keenly aware in today's world
> about where their food comes from and how their food is manufactured
> or handled," said Rutter's president, Todd Rutter. "They like this
> type of data." 
> Rutter's sells its milk at the state's minimum price, but a national
> spot check of prices by the American Farm Bureau last month found
> "rBST-free" milk typically costs about 25 percent more. 
> An announcement earlier this year by the Publix Super Markets chain
> that its private-label milk would be "rBST-free" spurred milk bottlers
> throughout the Southeast to follow suit, said Amber DuMont with the
> Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative. 
> All milk is "safe and wholesome regardless," she said, although
> consumers are increasingly demanding artificial hormone-free milk. 
> "Why would a consumer choose to purchase organic products vs.
> conventionally treated products? Because they have an interest in how
> that product was produced," she said. 
> Organic labeling, Wolff said, involves a certification process that
> includes surprise audits, so the department does not currently intend
> to interfere with it. 
> State regulators also are looking at labeling claims on other dairy
> products, considering action on improperly labeled eggs and poultry,
> and keeping an eye out for other products that state or infer a "we're
> safe, they're not" claim. 
> The milk labeling crackdown followed a unanimous determination by
> Wolff's 22-member Food Labeling Advisory Committee that significant
> problems with food labels confused consumers. The committee included
> consumer advocates, food marketers, restaurateurs, veterinarians, the
> dairy industry and several state agencies. 
> Wolff, whose family dairy business has used Posilac in the past, said
> he had no contact with Monsanto and the company had no input in the
> decision.
> *****************************************************
> G. Patrick Bowling, P.G.
> PA Department of Environmental Protection
> Bureau of Watershed Management
> P.O. Box 8555
> Harrisburg, PA 17105-8555
> phone: 717-772-4048
> fax: 717-787-9549
> e-mail: gbowling at state.pa.us
> *****************************************************
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