We Should Have Known


As I reported in October, Pennsylvania's Agriculture Secretary, Dennis Wolff, issued a ruling forbidding 19 dairies in the state from labeling their milk as being free of the artificial growth hormone rBST, never mind that it was. Repeating a refrain expressed by Monsanto Co. (maker of rBST) last summer when it unsuccessfully tried to get the Federal Trade Commission to roll out such a ban nationwide, Wolff claimed the labels were misleading because you can't test milk to see whether the fake hormone was present—a case of bureaucratic Newspeak if there ever was one.

Fortunately, in mid-November, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell stopped implementation of the absurd new regulation pending a review by his office, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch (Monsanto's hometown daily), which carried an excellent report on the entire debacle.

Among many other tidbits unearthed by the paper: Wolff himself is a dairy farmer. The story didn't say whether or not his herd was treated with rBST. Any guesses?

Speaking of Artificial Hormones…

Their use is among the practices that the United States Department of Agriculture proposes to ban on meat that is labeled "natural." Antibiotics and animal byproducts are also included on the list of no-nos in a discussion paper released last week:

At present, "natural" can have any meaning a producer likes. This being bureaucracy there are no rules whatsoever covering its use—naturally.

Food Fraud

And while we're on the topic of misleading labels, you owe it to yourself to click on the Center for Science in the Public Interest's latest list of "Food Frauds." A major company sells a breakfast cereal full of the flavors of "berries and yogurt," which contains not a trace of either; a trusted baby food purveyor promotes a "fruit medley" juice in a box decorated with a colorful cornucopia of oranges, peaches, cherries and pineapples, none of which are in the beverage (though there's plenty of corn syrup and sugar)-and that's just to mention two members of CSPI's rogues' gallery.

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