Under pressure from consumer groups, dairy associations and farmers, Pennsylvania did a 180-degree turn Thursday and decided not to limit milk labeling standards. (See our previous story for an in-depth look at this issue).
The decision means that farmers and processors can continue to state on milk labels that they do not use synthetic growth hormones - rBST or rBGH - a label that many consumers seek out. The state had sought to limit those statements beginning in February.
The ban was to take effect Feb. 1, to the dismay of consumer activists and many smaller dairies who choose not to inject their cows with hormones. But the move was superseded by new standards issued today, after a review by the office of Gov. Rendell.
Rendell ordered the agency to review the policy after consumer outcry, his spokesman said
"The governor's position was relatively simple: he wanted the labels to be accurate and informative," said Rendell's press secretary Chuck Ardo.
"It's basically a complete back-down," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the nonprofit group Consumers Union, which had opposed the ban.
Given the firestorm over this issue, expect to see similar "absence" claims once cloned animals and their progeny hit the food supply: "This milk produced without clones and without rBGH".
- Samuel Fromartz