Break out the pink champagne and Dorothy’s ruby red slippers because there really is no place like home in Kansas, USA. Thanks to Obama’s new crowned jewel pick of Governor Kathleen Sibelius, who will head up the Department of Health and Human Services, Kansas consumers and diary farmers have won a major victory over a contentious and controversial new bill related to recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). Gov. Sibelius vetoed the bill!
The bill, HB 2121, faced overwhelming, nationwide opposition from a host of groups including consumer, health, animal welfare, dairy, and environmental organizations. The bill was passed by the Kansas State Legislature and would have required [rbGH hormone free] dairy farmers to label their milk with a misleading “qualifier” amounting to nothing more than FDA sanctioned corporate propaganda. The label qualifier would have forced rbGH free dairy farmers to include a disclaimer indicating “that the Food and Drug Administration has found no significant differences between milk from cows supplemented by the hormone, commonly known as rbST or rBGH, and milk from cows that are not“, despite reams of information to the contrary.
The governor’s office issued this press release:
“… the Bill before me … provides for changes in dairy labeling that could make it more difficult to provide consumers with clear information. The milk labeling provisions negatively impact a dairy producer’s ability to inform consumers that milk is from cows not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBST).”
“Supporters of the bill claim it’s necessary to protect consumers from false or misleading information. Yet there has been overwhelming opposition by consumer groups, small dairy producers and retailers to this proposed legislation. Therefore, pursuant to Article 2, Section 14 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I veto HB 2121.”
“Governor Sebelius clearly recognized that the bill’s provisions on dairy labeling would have made it harder for consumers to get the information they want about the dairy products they consume and would have hindered dairy farmers’ ability to tell consumers that their milk is from cows not treated with rbGH,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) has been banned in every industrialized nation in the world except for the U.S., and has been linked to infections in dairy cows, and antibiotic use; furthermore, there is documentation in support of evidence that rBGH milk contains high levels of IGF-1, a potent cancer tumor promoter. Even the United Nations’ food safety body refused endorsement of rbGH.
Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to restrict “rbGH-free” labeling by attempting to ban or restrict rbGH-free labeling in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, and Missouri.
Food activist Naomi Starkman points out that a “bogus non-profit called American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) was formed last year to join the battle. This ‘grassroots‘ group received funding from Monsanto and was formed by Osborne and Barr, a PR firm founded by two ex-Monsanto employees. Seems that AFACT is actually ALIE“.
“Consumer demand for rbGH-free dairy, writes Starkman, “led big retailers like Wal-Mart, Krogers, Starbucks, Tillamook, Safeway and Chipotle Restaurants to get on the milk wagon and phase out the hormone in all of their dairy products. California Dairies, Inc., which produces nearly 10 percent of the nation’s milk, went rbGH-free last year. And, by the end of summer 2009, the New England dairy industry will be rbGH-free as well.”
Kathleen Sebelius’ last days as Governor of Kansas are days health conscious Foodies won’t forget. “There was an outpouring of opposition by consumer groups, small dairy producers and retailers to this proposed legislation,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director at Food and Water Watch. “As she ascends to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Governor Sebelius has left a legacy of support for the public interest in Kansas with this veto.”
You can help uphold the governor’s veto here at Food & Water Watch.