Consumers Win Right to Know What’s in Their Milk
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) reached an agreement on Oct. 31 with plaintiffs, including the Organic Trade Association, to withdraw a controversial dairy labeling rule. In 2008, the State of Ohio issued an emergency regulation to prohibit labeling dairy products as produced without the use of the artificial growth hormone, recombinant bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH).
"This agreement is a victory for consumer choice and transparency. Now, farmers and processors in Ohio will be able to accurately label their milk rbGH-free, and consumers will be able to use this information when they purchase dairy products," said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland. “We applaud the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s commitment to end pursuit of regulations that restrict a consumers’ right to know and a farmers’ right to inform consumers about their production practices.”
The agreement follows a Sept. 30, 2010 U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit decision striking down significant parts of the pending rule created by the ODA to prohibited labeling dairy products as "rbGH-free."
Critical to the decision was the Court’s reliance on an amicus brief filed by The Center for Food Safety, OEFFA, and other organizations to rule that milk produced with synthetic hormones is different than milk produced without it. Significantly, the Appeals Court recognized the compositional differences in conventional milk compared to rbGH-free milk. They acknowledged that milk from cows treated with rbGH has elevated levels of IGF-1, higher somatic cell (dispersed pus) counts, and lower quality of milk during certain phases of the lactation cycle.
rbGH, a synthetic hormone injected into cows to boost milk production, has been linked to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer in humans and increases the incidence of clinical mastitis and lameness in treated cows. Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia do not allow the hormone to be used in dairy production, and organizations such as the American Public Health Association have called for its ban in the U.S.
Yet, under the ODA’s 2008 rule, Ohio’s dairy producers could not label their milk “rbGH-free" or “artificial hormone free,” and could not make a statement about rbGH on their packaging without also adding: “The FDA has found no significant difference between milk from cows treated with artificial growth hormone and those that have not been treated.”
For more information about the history of Ohio’s dairy labeling rule, click here.
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, click here.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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