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Milk labeling bill passes; there’s still time

March 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment · Food in the news

Did you hear the one about the Kansas House approving a bill severely restricting dairies’ ability to tell consumers that they don’t use recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) on their cattle? No?

iwigbottleNo surprise. After the pro-drug lobby failed a year ago in the Kansas Senate, it apparently tried last fall with the state Agriculture Department. I’m not sure where that one stands, exactly, but the ag department’s proposed rule drew hundreds of letters and dozens of witnesses against it. (Read the Topeka Capital-Journal report.)

Never one to say die, the pro-drug crowd got a bill (HB 2295 – PDF) introduced in the House this spring, and evidently the timing was good. With people busy worrying about high-profile issues such as education funding, a House committee passed the bill on March 13, and the otherwise slow legislative process moved quickly. The House passed the bill on March 20, last Friday.

Meanwhile, nary a word of HB 2295 in the Topeka Capital-Journal, The Kansas City Star or the Wichita Eagle. The New York Times noted it, proof in some circles, no doubt, that this whole labeling issue is some elitist Eastern conspiracy.

The bill puts an undue burden on producers who don’t use rBGH, also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin hormone  (rBSH) or Posilac (the Monsanto brand name) by requiring, in addition to disclaimer text on labels,  “an affidavit or any other documentation deemed necessary to support the claim that the milk is from cows not supplemented with rBSH” to be available to Ag Department inspectors.

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Two bits of good news, though:

  1. The bill isn’t yet law. Opponents can still try to stop it in the Senate or, if it passes there, the governor’s office.
  2. It doesn’t apply to organic milk, which by definition wouldn’t allow use of the hormone.

You can read the Legislative Research Department’s explanation of the bill. You can sign up for the Center for Food Safety‘s True Food Now action alerts. You can contact your state Senator. Again.

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