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Breaking News: Court Overturns Ohio’s Attempt to Prevent Labeling of Hormone-Free Milk

Natural Health Hormone Free Cow
This landmark court decision reaches far beyond Ohio. It means that milk—and maybe other food too—can be clearer about its origins.

The organic milk industry has won a significant battle with the state of Ohio over consumers’ right to know what has been added to the milk their children drink. Or, more precisely, what hasn’t been added.
Last August we told you about a lawsuit filed by the Organic Trade Association. The suit came about because of some serious dirty dealings between the FDA, a major biotech manufacturer, and state governors.
The background details are fascinating but a little intricate. We offer them here for readers who are interested in an appalling case study of crony capitalism (the rest of you may wish to skip down past the bullets):

  • The story begins with Michael R. Taylor. He worked for the FDA in the 1970s, then went into private practice representing Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology giant, where he established the firm’s “food and drug law” practice—specifically, the policy regarding Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST, also commonly referred to as BGH, for short), injected into cows to increase milk supply.
  • In 1991 he returned to the FDA for three years as Deputy Commissioner for Policy. During that time, the FDA approved the use of rbGH. Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA’s approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous façade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, though it still lurks behind friendly “All Natural” labels of companies like Breyers Ice Cream.
  • When the FDA okayed the use of rbGH, sales of organic milk began to climb, because organic rules prohibit the use of rbGH in milk production. Some brands of milk—both organic and conventional—were sold with notices that they were produced without the hormone. But factory farmers using the hormone opposed those notices, and Taylor wrote a white paper at the FDA—the “interim guidance” document from 1994—suggesting that if companies ever labeled their products as being rbGH-free, the Agency should require an asterisk leading to the following statement: “The FDA has determined that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST supplemented and non rbST supplemented cows”—despite the fact that Monsanto’s own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in milk from the drugged cows! Monsanto used Taylor’s white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as “rbGH-free” or “artificial hormone free.”
  • Taylor moved from the FDA to the USDA for two years in the mid-1990s, where he was Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. He then returned to Monsanto as a vice president. During this period, Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims. But Monsanto had a friend in Pennsylvania, a contact Taylor had forged during his USDA tenure: State Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff. He unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn’t afford to create separate packaging for just one state. Consumer demand forced a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor’s FDA disclaimer on the package.
  • Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania’s lead on the packaging disclaimer, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to redesign their labels and would likely ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all.
  • In 2007, a coalition of five organizations filed an “imminent health hazard” Citizen Petition with FDA, detailing the abnormalities in milk from cows injected with the growth hormone. The FDA never responded—never even acknowledged receipt of the petition. In January of this year, the same coalition re-filed the same Citizen Petition with the FDA, but this time the Commissioner dismissed it on alleged procedural grounds—something that had never been raised with any prior Citizen Petitions. Coincidentally, Taylor became the Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA last July! (Special thanks to GMO investigator Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, for helping us piece together the Taylor saga.)

In June 2008, the Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio over the labeling regulation, claiming that it stifles free speech, restricts the flow of products in interstate commerce, and is preempted by a longstanding federal organic law. They lost the suit, but filed an appeal—which they have now largely won!
A district appeals court (in a unanimous decision) has overturned Ohio’s effort to prevent the labeling of milk as being free from artificial hormones, ruling that there is indeed a “compositional difference” between milk from cows treated with growth hormone and untreated cows. The court will allow Ohio to require a disclaimer on the cartons of those dairies who proclaim to not use the drug, though this may fuel further litigation. But they told Ohio that they couldn’t require that the disclaimer be on the same panel of the package as the drug-free claim or the same font size.
This decision sets a tremendous precedent that could affect how other foods are labeled, and may have far-reaching consequences for other artificially enhanced or genetically engineered foods—perhaps including the genetically engineered salmon that is under consideration by the FDA. Finally, nearly seventeen years after the FDA issued its first labeling “guidance,” a deception engineered by a former Monsanto employee, the court has sided with the scientific evidence.

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34 thoughts on “Breaking News: Court Overturns Ohio’s Attempt to Prevent Labeling of Hormone-Free Milk

  • THIS is all too crazy and intricate to follow. HOWEVER, we DEMAND hormone free milk, no conflict of interest positions held, e.g., FDA and FTC and Monsanto or other hormone/drug manufacturing positions, as well as COMPLETE labeling for THE CONSUMER to tell what additives are in their food!!! We do NOT necessary want any information regarding hormone/drug manufacgturer’s information on our food.

    • diana brendan

      Laws need to be enacted which prevent individuals who may have a conflict of interest from serving/working for the FDA. Questions asked should be: Did s/he work for a company regulated by the FDA? Is the individual receiving a pension, dividend or any other kickback from any corporation/business regulated by the FDA? If so, it’s a conflict of interest, and that person should not work for the FDA.

    • Alison

      Yes, it is intricate and convoluted, but as consumers and citizens, we need to pay attention to capital/corporate cronyism as it is what has placed this country in it’s current predicament. It is all across the board from foods to health (sick) insurance and the correlation is obvious. The more chemicals and altered foods we consume, the less healthier we become and are in a sense a cash cow for the respective industries. Interesting how Monsanto is so in bed with the current (last 3 years) group of democratic representatives.
      I for one will pass this article on in the hopes that even just a few people who did not realize what all is going on, will learn something.

  • FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, see the stupidity and lack of caring about the proven ill effects of manufacturing/production additives and hormones. God made it best. ANY OTHER corporation backed additives are GMO, e.g., God Move Over, and are to be guarded against, in my opinion.

  • Jeri Brock

    It seems like cronyism continues between the FDA and Monsanto, etc. Who hires and looks at resumes. It seems that decisions are made without regard for facts and for humanity. Who is at the top? America is falling behind in its care and concern for public safety. The almighty dollar and power prevail as our Country fails the public needs over greed.

    • Patricia Turis

      Obama appointed many Monsanto CEOs to major food / water and agricultural positions. A former Monsanto exec is in charge of international crop and food trade negotiations. Monsanto researcher Margaret Miller who worked on the bovine growth hormone, transferred to FDA and got the job of reviewing her own research. Miller increased the antibiotic protocol for milk to permit an increase of 10,000 percent. Tom Vilsack heads up the USDA and is biotech friendly. Who needs big ag? 1.5 billion family farmers produce 75 percent of the world’s food. The Obama Administration has disappointed many people in it’s support of biotechnology, including Monsanto and other big chemical corporations. It is important to lobby with your pocketbook. Don’t shop in grocery stores if you have other options, until we have labeling and locally-grown foods. Let the White House know there are millions of us opposing GMOs.

  • Vicky Scott

    I really appreciate the true information, and notice the huge difference in taste in milk that IS
    truly organic. I will not buy anything other than organic, and it is such an immense shame
    in our country, that everything always depends on someone’s greed.
    It is hard to find a truly honest person, much less a truly honest business anymore. I have
    never bought Breyers Ice Cream, and I will not buy it now, due to your information. I tend
    to make ice cream myself from organic products.
    As many consumers are trying to wade thru the haze, I truly want to purchase food that is
    pure, and hasn’t been processed, or chemicals added.
    When you lose your health, you have lost it all.

  • I am impressed and so very pleased.
    We need more – much more of the same.
    Thank God for people like Jeffry Smith
    . . .and you Jan
    (Genevieve Turner – voting name)

  • Steve Jones Sr.

    I am so sick of the FDA sleeping with corporate america. They put the will and health of citizens last and thioer greed first.

  • Dorothea Degenhardt

    I am glad there are some prople in this country that care for the health of others.
    Why don’t you ask your readers to vote with a dollar to help you fight the Monsanto crooks who pilfer nature for profit to the detriment of peoples health, when God gave us food without charge that is good and wholesome.

  • Joe Sixpack

    So why hasn’t this Michael R. Taylor been sued yet? It does no good to uncover such information if it does not prevent bad actors from enganging in future crony capitalism.

  • Gloria

    I am already loading myself with bio-identical hormones BY CHOICE after my hysterectomy. BY CHOICE is the key word(s). When I buy something at a store, I want to know what exactly I am spending my hard earned money on! To hide ingredients which may or may not affect my health is sneaky. How many years and how many people had to find out the hard way that a product contains peanuts, shellfish, etc that directly and in many cases, IMMEDIATELY affected them?

  • HANK

    Thank you so much for your perseverence on fighting for publuc awareness and new legal precedents on GE Bovine growth Hormone. The shape shifting Michael Taylor needs to go home to Monsanto and stay there. The USDA and The FDA should have insider policies written that fire and prosecute people like Taylor.
    I know it’s difficult to stay with any one issue when there’s so much Corporate power being used and abused these days. Thanks again. Stay in the fight and be strong. A lot of people have got your back.

  • Luzern sells “Organic” Whipping Cream. It is mostly carrageenan, not cream. It tastes awful!
    It is sold at Safeway. When I buy whipping cream, I expect it to be cream, not something else.
    Please do something!

  • Linda N

    YEY!!!! We have to keep fighting tooth and nail bit by bit against the corporate control and poisoning of our food supply. We have the right to stay healthy!!

  • Evan Eberhardt

    It’s about time. Is this a free country or not? Big dairy is yet another tyrannical unconstitutional farce. You had better believe it violates free speech.

  • michel duncan merle

    A shocking story of conflict of interest…..why isn’t the current administration shaking up the FDA? Isn’t that under the Dept. of Agriculture? What does Obama’s secretary have to say on the matter?

  • John DeMartini

    It is time we stopped this insane practice of appointing people from drug companies to work for the FDA and USDA. What ever happenned to conflict of interest?

  • GREAT!!! That’s a good start, now it’s time to get serious about his situation!!!
    How do WEASELS like Michael Taylor keep their jobs and WHO IS APPOINTING THIS SLIME???
    What comes around, goes around MT….nuff said!

  • This is great news. Just as some people are allergic to wheat, or rye, or peanuts, or walnuts, etc., I have a reaction to Bt-foods. I do not know if it is the Bt-toxin or one of the herbicides: glyphosate, glufosinate or 2,4-D, or a combination of both, but such foods cause my blood pressure and blood sugar to greatly increase, along with other problems. I do not have any reaction to any ‘organic’ or ‘non-GMO’ food. But for anything containing corn not so labeled, I have to call the manufacturer and ask, ‘Do you use any genetically modified organisms in your product?’ I believe anything containing any of these toxins should be labeled with ‘contains Bt-toxin & glyphosate [or glufosinate or 2,4-D].’

  • LiarpantsonFiar

    Great news. That manTaylor should be fired and his law license revoked. And that he can never work at Walmart or shop there!

  • Alfiya Aleeva

    How long these murder corporations will exist? The whole world have recognized and understand that Monsanto and FDA work tightly together and their goal is to destroy population, nature through poisoning us from the air, food and vaccines. Do you know that they spread 10-20 million of aluminum containing aerosol over the sky and at the same time Monsanto heavily work on GMO seeds resistant to aluminum. What does it means? Over period of time no one organic food will be able to grow it will get yellow, small and die because the soil and water contaminated by aluminum. Then Monsanto will come out with their seeds and all of us silly pigs will have no choice to pay heavy price to by those seeds and eat GM. Then NO reproduction at all and deformed and ugly population on the planet. Planet earth destroyed but those monsters at monsanto, FDA and government have healthy seeds in their banks. As soon as they get rid of entire population and those left will just slave for them not for these managing this business but their generations will enjoy planet just for themselves. TILL HEN WE WILL TALK AND THEY WILL DO WHAT THEY WANT. It is obvious if they don’t want truth on label then where is the democracy where is the freedom? Stop talking unite people and take to the street please. As I always say FDA the Food and Drug cannot be under one umbrella! But they are own the money and they do what they want. Soon we will not able to open our mouth at all and will be prohibited for eating healthy food it is so obvious and we are still talking. TIME IS MONEY do you know this. We are talking they are acting and poison us secretly from every corner.

    • BJ in PA

      Forget GM caused allergies! Just reading THIS makes my BP SKY HIGH!!!! With scientific proof of the differences in ANY of these GM foods, can’t the Monsanto’s, USDA, FDA, the states or their minions be sued for attempted murder by poisoning???????? If Monsanto can get their way with a Taylor ‘white paper’, can’t we use the Canadian research in our favor? I never knew there were so many psychopaths in this world! Who in their right mind could go along with not letting TRUE labeling on our food! Can you just imagine the pay offs? A drop in the bucket for the huge ‘international corps’! SICKENING! Yet the gov has quietly allowed the total contamination of our food supply with GM corn, soy, cotton, aspartame, etc. before we even knew what hit us! We better NOT allow the senate to pass S510 “Food Safety Act” when they reconvene, or we won’t be talking about any of this, (organic vs. frankenfood) because it will ALL disappear! Ask why Monsanto just bought XE, the former Blackwater, private war contractor. Is it so they can police every inch of America’s farmland AFTER S510 passes?

  • Barbara Talbert

    This story is so interesting and a citizen would not know about it and all the twists and turns unless you and other organic organizations had done the research. Thank you for your work. The more information people have about bio-engineered food and hormone altered food the more they will understand that what is being done with our food is a crime against humanity. Sure, there are crops being saved and animals with less diseases and parasites (maybe) but what about the people who have to eat and drink all this stuff. We are the people and it is so good to have a voice through all the organic websites. This labelling thing is so crucial and I am so glad that Ohio’s effort to prevent the labelling of milk as being free from artificial hormones is overturned by the District Appeals Court. Yay!

  • Tina

    I feel really disgusted that someone can be so deceitful just to make a dollar. I really don’t understand don’t these people have children & grandchildren that they care about and care about what they are putting in their bodies? Hopefully this will start all companies to start labelling all of their products accordingly so we know what we are giving are children.

  • Sherry P

    The second I hear a Dr. say, “but its FDA approved”, I know I will NOT be using what ever product or pill they are pushing! I trust other countries and the products and research they do, well before that of home sweet home!

  • Geminga

    I have made a copy of this article and demanded that obama fire the FDA(Federal Death Agency), yes the entire agency, as it is clear that it no longer serves the function of protecting the people and is a co-conspirator in the New World Order……………..oh goodness is that the CIA at my door……..I hear helicopters!…………….to be continued…………..

  • Judith

    Raw Milk is the only kind I can drink. Thank goodness for a store in my area that sells Raw Milk and other Raw Milk Products. Will keep purchasing them and hope more places will carry truly Raw Milk Products. Remember that Organic milk is not always raw.

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