Wisconsin to Allow Labeling of Diary Products without Bst

Article excerpt

Wisconsin has become the third state this month to enact a law related to labeling dairy products and Monsanto Co.'s new drug that raises cows' milk production.

"This labeling bill . . .will give consumers peace of mind without impeding the growth of the dairy industry," said Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, who signed the law Thursday.

The law permits food labels to say that dairy products exclude milk from cows injected with Monsanto's drug, often called bovine growth hormone (BGH) or bovine somatotropin (BST).

The drug, which raises a cow's milk output by up to 20 percent, went on sale Feb. 4.

Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has 90 days to develop labeling guidelines.

Wisconsin's dairy industry has annual sales of $10 billion. Wisconsin was the nation's largest milk producer last year with 23 million pounds. In recent months, however, it has been overtaken by California.

Several state legislatures are considering labeling bills. Other states with BST laws are:

Maine, whose law lets dairy farmers alert customers that their herds haven't been treated with BST.

The law says milk producers must notify dealers when they use the drug; and it says the state may verify the claims through inspections. Maine produced 663 million pounds of milk last year.

Vermont, whose law requires special labels on products containing milk from BST-treated cows. …