Dec 30, 2010

Court Overturns Ohio Law Restricting rBGH-free Labels

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in a landmark case that would have prevented consumers in Ohio knowing whether products on grocery store shelves were produced without the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

Nearly two years ago, the State of Ohio issued a regulation that restricted a company’s ability to state that the milk it markets is rBGH-free and produced without antibiotics, added growth hormones or pesticides. In October, the Sixth Circuit Court reversed the lower court decision, agreeing that consumers have a right to know how their dairy products are produced. The court confirmed that the First Amendment allows organic dairy products to state that they are free from rBGH.

Significantly the court also found that there is a significant compositional difference between milk from untreated cows and milk from cows injected with rBGH. The latter contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone linked to several types of cancers.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center polled more than 1000 people nationwide on various food labeling issues. They found that 70% of those polled were concerned about synthetic growth hormone and 88% agreed that milk from cows raised without rBGH should be allowed to be labeled as such.

The U.S. is in the minority among industrialized nations by allowing the use of rBGH. Canada, Japan, Australia and 27 countries in the European Union ban its use.

-From The Organic and Non-GMO Report, Volume 10 Issue 10, November 2010

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