Monsanto Goes Insane

Here’s a story that I really don’t understand. Monsanto, which makes the hormones frequently given to milk cows, is suing a Maine dairy for labeling their milk “hormone free”.

The label, used by Oakhurst Dairy in Portland, states: “Our farmers’ pledge: no artificial growth hormones.” Monsanto sued Oakhurst in July, saying its label implies the dairy’s milk is somehow better than milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin , or rBST, a hormone sold by the company under the brand name Posilac. About 17 percent of dairy farmers use rBST, injecting 32 percent of all cows in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Call me stupid, but I don’t see how labeling milk “hormone free” when it is from cows who were given no hormones is actionable. Monsanto isn’t arguing the truth of the claim, just that this implies their hormones are bad. The article says the dairy might settle. I’m no lawyer, but it seems like they might have stood a good chance of prevailing. This strikes me as petulant on Monsanto’s part. They sell their hormones to a lot of dairies in the country, and they want to even prohibit the ones that don’t use hormones from using that as a differentiator. That doesn’t seem right to me. Are they going to sue farmers that label produce “pesticide free” as well?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

4 thoughts on “Monsanto Goes Insane”

  1. Chris C. says:

    “Eggland’s Best” brand eggs are designed (somehow) to provide less cholesterol. Yet they are not allow to advertise it or label it as such. The “regular” egg producers banded together and stamped them down, via the fist of the FTC.

    Google for “cholesterol eggland’s best FTC” for more info.

    My point is that the facts don’t matter — Monsanto will find a way, supposedly based in enough scientific fact to convince a judge or panel, that the organic dairy is making deceptive claims.

    Compare the number of lawyers on each side. We’re boned. By the way, Monsanto has a long history of being scum (see “DDT”).

    – Chris, who drinks organic milk and loooooooves it

  2. Dave says:

    Ironically enough, the google ad on the side of the page right now is for “hormone free cheese.” I’ve never been that on fire for organic foods one way or the other. What gets me is how wrong this seems from a legal or even ethical standpoint. I fail to see how labelling something in actual accordance with the practices can be wrong in any circumstance. As you point out, though, right and wrong don’t hold up well under an assault by a brigade of lawyers.

    Does the organic milk taste that much better to you? How much more expensive is it? I’ve always kind of wondered if the hormones in milk account for all these highly voluptous 12 year old girls I see running around.

  3. Brian says:

    Monsanto trying to stop the labeling of milk as being hormone free is merely a scientific company trying to stem the rise of the counter-gm culture that is affecting the world today. The demographic of that culture is fairly science-ignorant and will seek to discredit any scientifically progressive institutions by discriminating against them. If you don’t believe me, look at Europe.

    rBST cow milk is not harmful to humans, no matter what anyone has told you. At my internship last summer I worked with a professor who did his post-doctorate research with the BGH product at Monsanto, and he had elaborated on the situation. rBGH, or rBST, are several amino acids different than human GH at important receptor recognition sites, so even if somehow the hormone managed to get into the milk through the mammary glands (impossible in a healthy bovine), your body would physically not be able to recognize the hormone and respond to it with its cell receptors.

    By labeling the milk as hormone free, they are discriminating on a product in which the difference between the two is utterly unimportant. Due to the abundance of ignorance in America today, people may take this milk as being “better for you” and all other milk as being “bad for you”, thus discriminating on not only the product that Monsanto makes, but also the farmers who are seeking to improve their industry. Naturally, Monsanto was seeking (and able) to protect its product from unwarranted discrimination.

  4. DeeAnna Cavinee says:

    There are three facts about rBGH use aside from its chemical composition that make me opposed to consuming milk from Posilac treated cows.

    1. It has a very negative impact on the cows’ health and reproduction. It is cruel to use it on sentient creatures. Noone, even Monsanto, disagrees about the bovine health implications.

    2. The increased incidence of mastitis in hormone-treated cows increases the use of anti-biotics. The public health community is quite concerned about the dramatic increase in anti-biotic resistent microbes. They uniformly link this trend to the overuse of antibiotics in the meat and dairy industries as well as
    overuse for human disease treatment.

    3. This is NOT about science. This is about technology
    (the application of science) that is unnecessary. We did not have a shortage of milk.
    In fact, we in the USA are awash in milk. Why use a
    technology that does not solve a problem and, in fact,
    contributes to very serious problems like antibiotic
    resistence and cripples the animals in the process.

    Brian, I resent being called a “luddite.” And, I do want to have the product labeled. I use cosmetics that are not tested on animals. I want to know that no cows were harmed to produce the milk I pour into my glass.

    PS Over twenty-five countries, including Canada, Japan and most of the EU, agree with my position.

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