Advocate linked to GM hormone industry (16/12/2007)

1.Advocate linked to GM hormone industry
2.Dairy farms in tight squeeze over use of GM hormones

NOTE: Monsanto and its supporters used to invoke the fight over its genetically engineered hormone rBGH (aka rBST) to show how activist-led controversy over the introduction of a GM product could eventually die down, leaving widespread use and acceptance in its wake. The fight over GM crops would go the same way as rBGH, they predicted. But the fire they thought had died down is now spreading beyond their control.

EXTRACTS: Boggs said the supply of milk from cows treated with synthetic hormones is going to be significantly reduced in Ohio because companies such as Kroger shun it. (item 1)

...rbST-free production is on the rise. Safeway, Costco, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market, in addition to Kroger, sell rbST-free products. These days, consumers are more wary of how their food is produced and are demanding rbST-free milk, paying an average of 25 percent more for it. (item 2)

TAKE ACTION: Tell the Governors to label rBGH-Free milk!


1.Advocate linked to hormone industry
Woman appointed to speak for consumers on dairy labels
By Monique Curet
The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio), December 15 2007


A woman representing consumers on a state committee developing new rules for labels that appear on dairy products has a conflict of interest, a national organization says.

Robin Steiner formerly worked for Monsanto Co., which markets the synthetic growth hormones at the center of the labeling debate. Steiner's husband also is a dairy farmer, and he uses the synthetic hormones in his herd.

Dairy farmers who don't use hormones in their cows want to advertise that fact on product labels. But farmers who do use the hormones to stimulate milk production say such labels imply that their products are inferior.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture formed an advisory committee to help decide labeling standards, and Steiner was chosen to advocate for consumers.

'We're not happy about it,' said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch, a group that promotes local, chemical-free, humanely raised and clearly labeled food.

'We don't think that's a typical consumer,' Lovera said of Steiner.

Food & Water Watch is following the labeling issue because it's gained traction in other states. Pennsylvania recently passed stringent rules prohibiting misleading language on milk and dairy product labels. The state delayed implementing the rules after public outcry prompted a review.

'It's happening at the state level, but it has national implications,' Lovera said.

Steiner said she is 'not in this for Monsanto,' a company that laid her off during a reorganization. 'There's not a lot of feelings left' for the company after parting ways in that manner, Steiner said.

Saying she didn't think information about her employment with Monsanto was relevant, Steiner declined to provide details.

Her feelings on the labeling issue are influenced more by personal factors, Steiner said. For example, her mother, an elderly widow, lives on a limited income and doesn't have extra money to spend on milk that isn't compositionally different from less-expensive types, she said.

The Agriculture Department's advisory committee has about 20 members including dairy farmers, farm organizations and Ohio State professors. Its next meeting, which is open to the public, will be from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St.

Agriculture officials who chose the members did not know about Steiner's employment at Monsanto when they asked her to participate, agency spokeswoman Melissa Brewer said.

Steiner is the only committee member with 'consumer' listed as her affiliation. But Brewer said that others on the panel represent the consumer viewpoint, such as a member of Simply Living, a group that advocates for simplified lives and greater environmental awareness.

Steiner 'adds a very important voice to a very aggressive committee,' said Robert Boggs, director of the Agriculture Department.

Boggs said the supply of milk from cows treated with synthetic hormones is going to be significantly reduced in Ohio because companies such as Kroger shun it.

Boggs contends that these larger issues, which could have 'significant economic impact' on Ohio, are being ignored while smaller issues, such as label information, are debated.
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2.Dairy farms in tight squeeze over use of hormones
Hormone boosts production, but marketers want farmers to drop it
By Daniel Malloy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 16 2007

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The first letter from Dairy Marketing Services arrived in August, containing what John Ligo saw as a not-so-veiled threat.

Mr. Ligo, who has 200 milking cows on his farm here, has used recombinant bovine somatotropin to increase his herd's milk production since the hormone treatment entered the market in 1994.

It was safe. It was legal. It was profitable. It was not controversial -- then.

Mr. Ligo, an intelligent and often blunt man, had quit his job as a loan officer to take up dairy farming in 1990. He bought the land from his father, also a dairy farmer, but not to embody some quaint notion about tending the family plot.

'I knew I could make money,' said Mr. Ligo, who graduated from Penn State with a degree in agriculture business management.

And this letter, it seemed, threatened a practice that had helped him build his 1,000-acre LiTerra Farm.

Dairy Marketing Service's customers, the letter said, increasingly were requesting milk from cows not treated with rbST. Kroger, the Cincinnati-based grocery chain, was one of the first, and several more DMS clients followed suit -- including Dean Foods, the largest dairy distributor in the country. Though the letter stated DMS wouldn't 'force' anyone to drop the use of rbST, it suggested exactly that.

When Mr. Ligo followed up, a company representative confirmed his suspicion

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