If Monsanto has its way, you won’t know what’s in your milk. The food-tech leader is introducing bills to U.S. states that would ban milk labels claiming products are “growth hormone-free.” But Monsanto’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
Digital Journal — Agribusiness giant Monsanto is doing everything in its power to keep the contents of milk a secret. Recently, Monsanto led an effort to get rid of milk labels reading “growth hormone-free” in Kansas. The company wants the state’s Senate to pass a bill that would ban any kind of labeling because, they claim, growth hormones can’t be found in lab tests.
Monsanto is teaming up with AFACT, American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, which is led by several dairy farmers. AFACT also shares the same public relations firm as Monsanto. They want to make it illegal to label food, a Kansas City Star reporter says, “as having a compositional claim that cannot be confirmed through laboratory analysis or to state a compositional or production-related claim that is supported solely by sworn statements, affidavits, or testimonials.”
Essentially, this claim says lab tests can’t find growth hormones in milk, so dairy farmers who steer clear of the controversial drug are not even allowed to represent their milk as hormone-free.
Senate Bill 595 is before the Senate Agriculture Committee, and state Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, said he needs to study the bill more extensively. He told the Lawrence Journal World & News:
I’m certainly not opposed to the public having the right to know. That’s just part of the freedom we have in this country, and I don’t want to lose that regardless of what side you are on this issue.Monsanto certainly doesn’t want consumers to know much about recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH), which help cows produce more milk at the expense of their health. It’s been widely reported that rbGH can increase toxicity in cows and cancer risk in humans.
In order to spin the dangers away from the public eye, Monsanto has introduced similar bills in several other states, including Indiana, Ohio, Utah and Pennsylvania. Activist groups are reacting strongly to Monsanto’s anti-labelling efforts — Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch told Utah’s Desert Morning News that corporate interference in food labeling “is a restriction on commercial speech and unconstitutional.”
Monsanto is scared. It’s obvious in the way the company wants to steer consumer focus away from rbGH, and it’s clear in how it wants to muscle its way into the legislative process. Like any corporation worried about its bottom line, Monsanto knows that “rbGH-free” milk labels could appeal to health-conscious consumers. And is that so wrong? Unfortunately, Monsanto is looking after itself rather than the public, but let’s hope state Senates don’t fall for the agribusiness’s wily tricks.