Protect Truth in Labeling - Your Consumer Rights are Under Attack

Monsanto Tries to Ban rBGH Labeling in Kansas

A new bill, SB 595, has been introduced in the Kansas Senate. While it's primary purpose is to prevent the labeling of dairy products as being "rBGH free" (Monsanto's genetically engineered hormone injected into dairy cows) it actually covers any food. The following analysis of the issue is provided by Rick North of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and Craig Volland of the KC Food Circle & Kansas Sierra Club CAFO Committee.

Rick North of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility:
SB 595 bans two types of labels. The first is a label based on composition of the food product that can't be confirmed through lab analysis. There is no current commercial lab test that can detect rBGH. Therefore, this would knock out labels such as rBGH-free, rBST-free, or Does not contain artificial hormones.

The current industry standard requires that farmers sign an affidavit swearing that they don't use rBGH. The second provision in the bill knocks that out. In both instances, the bill makes an illogical leap that just because something isn't demonstrated by a lab test or is sworn to by affidavit or other sworn statement, then its misleading. This would knock out any production-related labels, such as "Our farmers pledge not to use rBGH (rBST, artificial hormones)."

Monsanto is getting clobbered in the marketplace. Dairy after dairy is going rBGH-free, all over the country. We estimate that at least one third, and probably 40-50% of all fluid milk sold in the U.S. is rBGH-free, and its going higher all the time. This is costing Monsanto millions of dollars and they are pulling out all the stops to reverse the trend. Their strategy is simple prevent consumers from knowing whether dairy products are rBGH-free or not by censoring label information.

Whats even more incredible about this bill is that it would appear to cover ANY food, not just dairy products. This is beyond what we've seen in bills/rules we've been fighting in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. I'm not even sure it's intended to go that far. There are all kinds of food labels that can't be verified by lab tests state of origin, country of origin, bottled water claims (such as spring-fed or from a particular location) and (possibly) organic, to name a few.

Craig Volland:
I believe this bill would also ban the label "free range" for meats which is critically important to small farmers in Kansas who sell direct to eaters or to restaurants. That's because it is verified to our customers by testimonial or affidavit, not certification. Also, depending on how they define "agricultural product" it could snag baked goods and jams and jellies, for example, that use some or all organically grown inputs but the processor may not, her- or himself, be certified organic.

Regardless of the science, this is, fundamentally, a consumer right- to- know issue. Also Monsanto has a long history of intimidating farmers with lawsuits (ie. Percy Schmeiser case) and

otherwise attempting to get their way through undue governmental influence. Because of their power and influence, product labeling is one of the few ways a consumer can exercise freedom of choice in this matter. Missouri growers may be seeing this shortly in the Mo. legislature.

Action against the Kansas bill must be swift because the Senate must act on it in the next week or so to abide by certain rules to get it through the Kansas House before the session ends.

Please call your state reps immediately and object to this bill. It's your right to know what is in (or not) your food. Monsanto has already failed to get this objective past the FDA at the national level, this new effort is a state-by-state attempt to circumvent that ruling and prevent consumers from being able to know if their dairy products contain growth hormones.

Please feel free to use this text for your email to Kansas Legislators:

Dear Senator _____ and Representative _____

I vehemently oppose the passage of SB 595, which has been introduced in the Kansas Senate. It's primary purpose is to prevent the labeling of dairy products as being "rBGH free" and to keep consumers from being able to make choices regarding the food we consume. The FDA denied this effort by Monsanto to ban rBGH-free labeling at the national level, and I oppose Monsanto's attempt to get around the ruling by going state-by-state.

Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, how it has been produced and where it has been produced. Yet through efforts like this, Monsanto and others deny consumers a fundamental right to choose and to understand what is in the food we eat.

Please stop this bill and the abuse of consumer rights that it represents.

Thank you,

Kansas Resident


Kansas Legislature Members you need to write are:

Senator John Vratil jvratil@lathropegage.com
Representative Tim Owens towens10@kc.rr.com

Also: julia@senatorjulialynn.com, allen@senate.state.ks.us, lynn@senate.state.ks.us, vratil@senate.state.ks.us, jordan@senate.state.ks.us, jordanforcongress@nickjordan.com, wilson@senate.state.ks.us

This Alert was posted at Eat Local KC and has generated some interesting action and commentary:

http://eatlocalkc.typepad.com/eatlocalkc/2008/02/monsanto-tries.html