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OH Milk Labels – “Souring” Business, or Creamy Goodness for Consumers?

November 13, 2007

Columbus, OH – There's a gallon of controversy in your local dairy cooler. Some in the dairy business have "gone sour" on a label that marks dairy products as coming from cows not treated with rBST, a synthetic growth hormone. They say the "rBST-free" label implies that there's something harmful about products from dairy farms that use rBST.

They're asking Ohio to follow Pennsylvania's lead in making that label designation illegal. But Carol Goland, with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association believes the "rBST-free" labels should stay, so shoppers can make up their own minds.

"Ultimately this is an issue about getting the information out to the consumer, and letting them decide what they want."

Makers of rBST say it has no impact on how "healthy" milk is. Goland says the jury is still out on the health issue, but she adds there are other reasons people choose to avoid milk produced with the synthetic hormone.

"Consumers are asking questions about what kind of farms they want to support, and how different sizes of farms and different production practices impact the environment, the rural landscape, and the communities around them."

Some Ohio farmers say they face a tough choice if their dairy processor requires them to stop using rBST: either risk lower production, or try to find another processor. Goland suggests instead, those farmers deserve help in finding new markets, as well as better prices and technical assistance for making the transition away from hormone use. She says outlawing the labels isn't the answer.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OH