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Fact Sheet on proposed Dairy Labeling Regulation in Kansas

  1. The Kansas Department of Agriculture's (KDA's) proposed rule is entirely focused on the use in dairy products of a genetically engineered growth hormone called rBGH or rBST.  It was invented by Monsanto Co. and is injected into dairy cows to force them to produce about 10% more milk.   Despite its approval by the FDA rBST has encountered considerable resistance from consumers and consumer, health and small farmer advocacy groups.   rBST is currently used by only about 15% of dairies in the US, and these tend to be factory-style dairies.  Monsanto recently sold the business to Elanco, a division of the Eli Lilly drug company.

  2. rBST has been controversial from the beginning because it increases disease rates in dairy cows and thus may increase the threat to humans of exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria.  It is presently banned by almost all other major developed countries including Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. 

    Potential direct health risks to humans have not been adequately studied.  The Codex Alimentarius, the U.N.'s main food safety body, declared there was no consensus that rBST was safe for human health.  Accordingly consumers have good reason and every right to demand milk that does not contain rBST, and that comes from cows not injected with the chemical.

  3. The President of the American Medical Association, in a newsletter to AMA members, recommended that hospitals serve only rBST-free milk. The American Nurses Association adopted a formal resolution in June 2008 to oppose the use of rBST. Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of over 460 organizations that promotes health and safety in hospitals, also opposes rBST, based on animal and human health risks.

  4. Virtually every animal protection agency in the nation opposes the use of rBST, including the Humane Society of the U.S., Humane Farming Association and the Animal Protection Institute.
    According to Farm Sanctuary, veterinary experts in Canada concluded that rBST increased the risk of mastitis, infertility & lameness in cows… leading to a 20-25% increased risk of culling from the herd.  Health Canada rejected the use of rBST as "a sufficient and unacceptable threat to the safety of dairy cows."

  5. The KDA has made no reference to consumer complaints in their supporting documents. See    "Proposed Dairy Labeling Regulation" and "Dairy Labeling Regulation Fact Sheet."   Actually KDA does not cite a specific reason for pursuing this proposed rule at this time other than referring to the failed attempt by rBST users to obtain legislation on this subject in the 2008 legislative session (Senate bill 595).

  6. Fourteen years ago the FDA issued a policy regarding the labeling of milk.  It recommended but did not require that states make rules regarding labeling of milk produced without the use of rBST.  Recent attempts by Monsanto and allied industrial farm groups to formalize rules on rBST to include statements now proposed by the KDA were rejected by both the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission.

  7. A lawsuit has been filed against a similar rule in Ohio.  It is a very real possibility that Kansas taxpayers will have to pay to defend the Kansas regulation if promulgated.

  8. While the proposed rule does not prevent the "certified organic" labeling of dairy foods, it could prevent organic dairy producers from explaining on the same label what this means with regard to the presence of artificial hormones, rBST and rBGH.

 Help protect consumer rights by sending a message to Gov. Sebelius and the KDA.