"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."That's right—dairies are no longer allowed to let their customers know that they don't give rBST to their cows. The result is that customers will have no way of knowing which dairy products they buy are hormone free (unless they buy certified organics).
The law is likely going to spread (New Jersey and Ohio are next) as Monsanto, the country's largest producer of agro-chemicals used on our nation's food supply, lobbies state governments to increase the ban. Their logic? Letting customers know what's not in our milk "implies that competitors' milk is not safe."
There is something excruciatingly perverse about this ruling, and it's not just that agribusiness and government are trying to keep information from consumers. What's really perverse is that dairies are labeling their milk "rBST free" because consumers want them to; it adds value to the product. Monsanto recognizes this, and instead of adapting their business paradigm to meet this dramatic shift in consumer demand, they are forcing consumers to conform to their standards. That's not really how the free market is supposed to work, though, is it?
Update [11.28.07]: "...early last week Gov. Ed Rendell's office initiated a review of the decision...Chuck Ardo, press secretary for Mr. Rendell, said the governor's office heard complaints from elected representatives of rural districts and agriculture lobbyists, prompting the review." [full story via The Ethicurian]
Update [01.17.08]: The ban's been reversed! [References via The Ethicurian]
Full story from STLtoday.com
Bovine growth hormone information from the Organic Consumers' Association
List of rBST free dairy producers