Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Chunky Monkey Puts You in the Know

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Chunky Monkey Puts You in the Know

Article excerpt

OPPONENTS OF recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) have won a recent battle in their war against the hormone used by dairy farmers. The recent settlement of a federal lawsuit filed in Illinois states that companies may label their products as being free of rBGH.

The growth hormone, which is used to increase milk production in lactating cows, began causing controversy when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1993. Citing research that suggests dairy from rBGH-treated cows increases cancer risks, rBGH opponents contend that the dairy industry is unable to ensure such products' safety. Companies that prohibit suppliers from using the hormone have sought to use labels declaring their products rBGH-free.

However, Nevada, Oklahoma, Illinois and Hawaii outlawed such labeling, based on laboratory tests that showed milk from treated cows could not be distinguished from that of untreated cows. The legislatures reasoned that rBGH-free labels could appear on products containing the hormone and imply a nonexistent benefit. As it's impossible for a national distributor to implement state-by-state labeling, these laws essentially prohibited labeling of rBGH-free products nationwide.

Ben & Jerry's, joined by Stonyfield Farm Inc. and Organic Valley, as well as natural foods grocery chain Whole Foods Markets, filed suit against the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago-the largest markets where labeling was prohibitedcharging that the law violated the companies' First Amendment rights. …

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