Ben & Jerry's to Monsanto: Paws Off Our Label! | Business | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Ben & Jerry's to Monsanto: Paws Off Our Label! 

Local Matters

local-cow.jpg

Next time you pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, check out the backside label: “We oppose Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone,” it begins.

The genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH — also known as “rBST” — is manufactured by the Missouri-based agribusiness giant Monsanto Corporation. About one in five dairy cows nationwide are treated with rBGH; up to 40 percent of Vermont’s milk supply could contain it. The hormone, which may increase the risk of cancer in lacto-loving humans, is banned in the European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved rBGH in 1993, but left further regulation up to individual states. Anti-rBGH companies such as Ben & Jerry’s require selected suppliers to sign affidavits ensuring they don’t use the hormone. But now, bending to Monsanto lobbyists, some Northeastern and Midwestern states are considering legislation that would make it illegal to label U.S. dairy products “rBGH-free.”

Not surprisingly, both the Waterbury-based ice-cream maker and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) are having a cow. In recent weeks, both have submitted written complaints to Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, where labeling restrictions may take effect February 1.

Byron Moyer is dairy section chief at the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food & Markets. He says the chance of similar legislation passing here is “slim to none.” In the late 1990s, Vermont had a “mandatory” rBGH labeling law and currently abides by a “voluntary” one. Interestingly, though, Moyer and a spokesperson from a major Ben & Jerry’s supplier refuse to comment on both the pending Pennsylvania law and the health debate surrounding rBGH.

“In terms of any positions on what’s transpired in the marketplace, we’re solely in the position of supplying our customers with the milk they’ve requested,” notes Tom Gates, Cooperative Relations Manager at St. Albans Cooperative Creamery. Ben & Jerry’s buys his co-op’s cream and condensed solids. “That’s really the extent of our position,” he adds diplomatically, “regarding different farm-management tools.”

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Mike Ives

Mike Ives

Bio:
Mike Ives was a staff writer for Seven Days from January 2007 until October 2009.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Business

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation