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Victory on GM hormone labels (17/1/2008)

COMMENT from Rick North, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility: WE DID IT!

YES! This morning, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture released new rules that essentially have taken back their ban on any kind of rBGH-free labels!

Dairy processors are again free to use such labels as 'rBGH- (rBST)- Free,' 'Our farmers pledge not to use synthetic growth hormones,' and 'From cows not treated with rBGH (rBST).' In other words, the consumersí right to know whatís in their dairy products has been rescued.

The only major concession given was that processors are now required to include the FDA disclaimer that there is 'no significant difference' between rBGH and rBGH-free milk. Obviously, we totally disagree with this opinion, but the reality is that most dairy processors have included this on their labels anyway, mainly to keep Monsanto off their backs. The more important reality is that consumers that want rBGH-free dairy products donít believe it anyway!

Make no mistake Ė a major reason for this victory is the grass roots bombardment of the PA governorís office and Dept. of Agriculture with thousands of messages of protest, plus the sign-on letter of over 60 organizations protesting the ban, and, of course, the threat of a lawsuit.

For all of you that helped, our sincere appreciation for your support. This is just another example of how much power and influence we have when we work with each other and with other organizations. Organized people have just beaten organized money. This was a BIG ONE!

Thank you!

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2. Pa. backs off milk-label change
By Tom Avril and Amy Worden
INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Philadelphia Enquirer, 17 Jan 2008
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20080117_Pa__backs_off_milk-label_change.html

Pennsylvania agriculture officials backed down today from a controversial ban on milk labels that identify the milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic growth hormone.

The ban was to take effect Feb. 1, to the dismay of consumer activists and many smaller dairies who choose not to inject their cows with hormones. But the move was superseded by new standards issued today, after a review by the office of Gov. Rendell.

Rendell ordered the agency to review the policy after consumer outcry, his spokesman said

'The governor's position was relatively simple: he wanted the labels to be accurate and informative,' said Rendell's press secretary Chuck Ardo.

Though labels are once again permitted to mention that hormones were not used, the standards require a disclaimer stating there is no difference in milk from cows injected with hormones and milk from cows that are not injected. Such disclaimers already are printed on many milk cartons.

'It's basically a complete back-down,' said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the nonprofit group Consumers Union, which had opposed the ban.

The agriculture department had issued the ban in October, arguing that a misleading impression might be conveyed by identifying milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic hormones. Pennsylvania would have been the first state to implement such a ban.

The synthetic hormones are said to boost milk production by about 10 percent, and were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994, though they are not allowed to be injected in Canada or Europe.

The product, which is marketed as Posilac, is used on about one-third of U.S. dairy herds, according to the manufacturer, St. Louis-based Monsanto.

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