1.Dairy processors make hormone-free switch
2.Monsanto, Fox and rBST
The first article reports on America's rapidly declining appetite for milk produced with the aid of Monsanto's rBST (aka rBGH) - a genetically engineered cattle drug , marketed as Posilac. This despite Monsanto's best efforts to suppress the facts about its GM hormone (item 2). As the first article notes, rBST is banned in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the EU.
EXCERPTS: Last month Dean Foods, the largest processor and distributor of milk and dairy products in the country, became the latest company to offer rBST-free milk products
Some scientific studies indicated that rBST might be implicated in causing sterility, infertility, birth defects, cancer and immunological derangements in humans. In cows, it is thought to increase infections in cow udders, leading to more pus ending up in retail milk. (item 1)
1.Dairy processors make hormone-free switch
By Sean Roach
Dairy Reporter, 14 September 2006
14/09/2006 - America's dairy processors are increasingly seeking rBST-free dairy supplies, as the demand for additive-free foods begins to exert its influence on the market.
Last month Dean Foods, the largest processor and distributor of milk and dairy products in the country, became the latest company to offer rBST-free milk products. The company will launch the products in New England.
According to industry analyst Organic Monitor, consumers are buying more and more organic and hormone-free food and drink products as they are seen to be healthier and more natural. This includes a demand from consumers for hormone-free dairy products.
BST or bovine somatotropin is a naturally occurring protein hormone in the pituitary gland of cattle. However, a sythetic version produced by Monsanto, rBST, is a growth hormone that is injected into a cow to increase milk production.
rBST is widely used around America. Monsanto estimates about one third of dairy cattle are given rBST, but the practice is banned in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most of the EU [actually, all of the EU - ed].
Some scientific studies indicated that rBST might be implicated in causing sterility, infertility, birth defects, cancer and immunological derangements in humans. In cows, it is thought to increase infections in cow udders, leading to more pus ending up in retail milk.
However, it is not the controversy or scientific research that is contributing to rBST's downfall, it is the consumers who are pushing more towards organic alternatives in their food products.
Demand has been particularly noticable in the northeastern US. The success of smaller dairy companies has spurred the larger Northeastern dairy companies to join the hormone-free movement.
However, a spokesperson for Dean Foods, Marguerite Copel, said that the regional trend would not affect Dean Foods' national dairy strategy. The company plans to remains as a supplier of a diverse range of rBST and rBST-free products.
"It's all about consumer demand. In places like California they have had rBST-free milk for awhile", Copel said. "Right now we are looking at the supply that is available so we can make this an additional offering to our consumers in those regions."
Dean Foods is following the success of Vermont-based H P Hood-Booth Brothers Dairy, a wholesaler and processor of fluid milk, cream and dairy products.
H P Hood-Booth labels its milk as rBST-free and operates plants in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and is expected to move to rBST-free products at its Massachusetts plant.
However, industry insiders believe that any full rollout of rBST-free products on a national scale would require a thorough analysis on the impact of farmers. Farmers often use rBST to level the playing field between themselves and producers around the country with lower milk production costs.
Doug Dimento, a spokesperson for the North East's largest dairy farmer cooperative Agri-Mark, said that consumer trends were pushing processors to seek out rBST-free supplies, but that the costs to farmers were also being considered.
"Many of the Class I handlers (bottlers of milk) are looking for rBST-free milk supplies," said Dimento. "Very few of our farmers use it, but those who do are often the larger ones that are important to the efficiency of our hauling routes", he said. "We are trying to determine what type of extra hauling costs we would incur if we had to supply our Class I customers with rBST-free milk so we can try and recover those costs from customers."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made rBST legal in November 1993, despite objections from consumer groups. The FDA and agriculture department do not require the labelling of rBST on dairy products. However, some organic producers have begun using "rBST-free" labelling to promote their brands and distance themselves from the artificial hormone.
2.Monsanto and Fox TV Unite to Suppress Journalists' Free Speech on Hazards of Genetically Engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST)
On April 2, 1998, two award-winning Florida TV producers, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, held press conferences in Tampa and Tallahassee to announce a lawsuit against a Fox TV network television station, WTVT. The reporters sued Fox for firing them after they refused to broadcast false reports about Monsanto's controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST).
Akre and Wilson were fired after a year-long battle over a TV news feature series they produced which highlighted the public health dangers of Monsanto's rBGH (increased antibiotic residues, increased levels of a potent human growth hormone factor called IGF-1, linked to the promotion of cancer tumors). Shortly before the original TV series was to run, an attorney from Monsanto contacted Fox TV and demanded that the script be altered.
The station gave in to Monsanto's demands and told Akre and Wilson to rewrite and tone down the script. One year and 73 rewrites later Monsanto still wasn't satisfied and Akre and Wilson were fired. rBGH was approved by the FDA in February, 1994, with no labeling or special pre-market safety testing required, despite massive opposition by consumers and dairy farmers, and over the objections of scientific experts from the Consumers Union, the Cancer Prevention Coalition, and other organizations.
At the April 2 press conference, Jane Akre emphasized that the public has a right to know the truth about the health hazards of rBGH, despite the strongarm tactics of Monsanto:
"Every parent and every consumer has the right to know what they're pouring on their children's morning cereal. We set out to tell Florida consumers the truth about a giant chemical company and a powerful dairy lobby. That used to be something investigative reporters won awards for. As we've learned the hard way, it's something you can be fired for these days..."
As reported by Jeanette Batz in the St. Louis newsweekly, Riverfront Times, David Boylan, WTVT station manager, was blunt in demanding that Akre and Wilson tell the story about rBGH the way Monsanto wanted it told. "We (the Fox TV network) paid $3 billion for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is." So much for freedom of the press in the era of Corporate Power. Full details of the lawsuit and the BGH story are available at: http://www.foxBGHsuit.com
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