So here is Rick, and I'm keeping his email at the bottom because he says its public and anyone that wants to get these updates just has to send him an email. He tells it like it is. These folks believed in us and we sure as heck need them to keep doing what they are doing. We can never drop our swords or shields.
10-4-10 Sent to subscribers to Rick North's email, the Director of the Campaign for Safe Food, run out of the Oregon PSR office. Yay Oregon! But truly the nation came together on this. Thank you to all our allies fighting for our right to safe food. And remember, you can pick up a printed beautiful copy of the Know Your Milk Brochure to learn or help explain to others why we don't want rBST including a number of references to studies like those presented in court. Just come see us at a tabling event such as at Food Front or the Tigard Farmers Market this month. :)
Blockbuster rBGH Decision
Everyone – Last Thursday, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals over-ruled almost all decisions of the U.S. District Court allowing the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture’s rules restricting dairies from labeling their products rBGH-free (rBST-free). The lower court’s decision was appealed by the Organic Trade Association and International Dairy Foods Association, which had brought the original suit.
Here’s a summary of the main points of what the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture had tried to do, spurred on by their friends at Monsanto and the Ohio Farm Bureau, and what the Court of Appeals said:
Ohio: Said that claims relating to the composition of milk such as “rBGH-free,” “rBST-free” or “No artificial hormones” labels were misleading and illegal
Court: Over-ruled – There was little evidence of consumers being misled. The labels are legal.
Ohio: Said that the FDA disclaimer asserting there is no significant difference between rBGH and rBGH-free is required to be put on the label of any dairy saying that the production didn’t allow rBGH.
Court: Allowed the requiring of the disclaimer to stand, BUT
Ohio: Said the disclaimer had to be contiguous to the claim on the label (which would have made it impossible for many national dairies to comply, since there wasn’t enough room on the front of the label)
Court: Over-ruled – Said there was no legitimate reason to force this, saying an asterisk and putting the disclaimer somewhere else on the label was perfectly adequate
But it gets even better than that. The court ruled that “a compositional difference does exist” between rBGH and rBGH-free milk. The court cited the scientific arguments laid out in an amici curiae (friends of the court) statement submitted by the Center for Food Safety. It provided scientific information provided by Consumers Union and signed by Oregon PSR and several other organizations. Oregon PSR provided information and reviewed the amici statement as it was being drafted.
This is highly significant. This is the first time since the FDA approved rBGH in 1993 that a federal government jurisdiction actually took the scientific research on milk composition from rBGH-injected cows seriously and challenged the FDA.
There are still details to be worked out which have been sent back to the lower court. Also, Ohio could also ask that this be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. Things can be sticky and we’re working closely with our colleagues to monitor the situation. But for right now, there are many reasons to celebrate.
To put this in context, Monsanto and their allies had led attempts in eight states from 2007 to 2009 to either ban or restrict rBGH-free labeling so that consumers wouldn’t be able to tell which dairies banned the use of the hormone. Our coalition of anti-rBGH organizations had stopped the attempts in seven out of the eight.
But not Ohio. In spite of our best attempts (I went to Columbus three times to testify and/or meet with state officials), and in spite of thousands of consumer comments protesting the proposed rules, the Dept. of Agriculture wrote their rules anyway.
Again, this was a great team effort – scientists, lawyers, physicians, consumer/health advocates and activists of all stripes worked together to pull this off.
Rick North, Project Director – Campaign For Safe Food
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility