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Government “Regulators” and Big Business: Goliath and Goliath

Sometimes it seems like government and industry are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In one of the most blatant examples of this, some state governments have teamed up with Monsanto to PREVENT food companies from labeling their ingredients accurately.

Ben & Jerry’s has been advertising that their ice cream doesn’t contain the synthetic bovine growth hormone made by Monsanto. This hormone was approved by the FDA in the 1990s in the United States. Canada, Japan and the European Union have never approved the drug because of safety concerns.

Just when you think you’ve seen the most absurd intelligence -insulting Astroturf organization yet, the bar gets lowered even further. American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology is the “grassroots” organization that’s trying to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from even telling you that their ice cream doesn’t contain rBGH. Take a wild guess: this gang of douchebags consists mostly of (A) farmers; or (B) Monsanto lobbyists.

psssst! The answer is (B).

And just to make the whole situation even more Orwellian, a Monsanto spokesperson said “Monsanto is really an advocate in support of accurate labeling of dairy products in the dairy case.”

So now we have a popular organic ice cream company being squelched by two 800-pound gorillas (hereafter referred to as David vs. Goliath & Goliath).

Monsanto’s growth hormone (rBGH) was banned in most other countries for the effect it has on animals. It doesn’t directly affect humans. But rBGH causes increased levels of another growth hormone in cows; and that hormone is believed to cause cancer in people.

sssshhhhhh!!  !! Move along! Nothing to see here!


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8 Responses to “Government “Regulators” and Big Business: Goliath and Goliath”

  1. “American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology is the “grassroot s” organization that’s trying to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from even telling you that their ice cream doesn’t contain rBGH. Take a wild guess: this gang of douchebags consists mostly of (A) farmers; or (B) Monsanto lobbyists.”

    Where do you find that this group consist of anything but farmers?
    From dairyline: http://www.d airyline.com  /releases/0 20608AFACT.h tm

    AFACT to be launched at the 2008 World Ag Expo

    Get the facts on the newest producer effort to defend technology in agriculture

    February 6, 2008—The American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) invite you to the official launch of their new organization at the World Ag Expo in Tulare , Calif. , at 10 a.m., on February 12, 2008 in the Hilvers Bldg. (Location at Median and S Streets).

    AFACT was organized by farmers frustrated by the loss of safe and valuable management tools resulting from inaccurate and misleading labeling and marketing practices to the consumer. As the organization ’s name implies, AFACT is dedicated to supporting producer choice of existing safe management practices and new technologies with collaborativ e ties to all commodity segments and allied industries.

    Join AFACT leaders as they present video results from various consumer focus groups investigatin g what consumers are demanding from their milk

    Plan now to visit with AFACT co-chairs Liz Doornink and Carrol Campbell. Both dairy-farmer leaders will be on-site throughout the show and happy to talk with you.

    Are you suggesting Liz and Carrol, both dairy farmers, and co-chairs of AFACT are lying?

    This from the Minnesota Farm Guide:

    “With support from industry, a small group of dairy leader farmers met in Chicago to create AFACT. Several producer organization s have endorsed the organization  , including the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, and the Kansas Dairy Association”

    Let Ben and Jerry’s advertise any way they like, as long as it is honest, but these farmers are trying to increase yields in milk and crops using modern technology that no one has proven unsafe. Genetically engineered crops and use of synthetic hormones helps to keep down cost of food. Keeping down cost helps to feed more people for less money. This is a good thing. More poor hungry people fed for less money.
    Take off your “I hate anything that corporate America makes money off of” glasses and you will see that their work is helping feed the poor of the world.

    If rGBH were removed from the market prices of milk and dairy products would go up. This would hit the poor the hardest. All on unproven risk against a proven benefit. I suppose you are against genetically engineered crop as well. Even though GE crop requires less pesticide as the insect resistance is engineered into the seed. You would think that everyone would understand that less pesitcide used to grow more crop is a good thing. Unfortunatel y this is not so. There is an irrational fear of using technology in food production.

  2. manapp,
    Slight problem with that last paragraph. Much of it’s not true. Some GM crops produce some benefit sometimes in some circumstance s. GM is not the pancea you are portraying. And people oppose GM because of the wider environmenta l effects, such as crossbreedin g (which is much more likely in wheats and other species closely related to wild grasses, etc) or loss of biodiversity  (which has been proven to be a problem with most GM crops in Europe in farm scale trials) as well as the quite possibly overhyped risks to human health which are likely to be small (but we don’t know because no one’s tried it yet.). Btw, could you provide a cite for GM crops actually feeding more people? Because I’ve seen nothing like that in the scientific literature.

    Oh, and I have a product that’s never been proven unsafe for human consumption. Of course, it’s also never been tested for that, but I guess that’s ok, too. I mean, it’s the same thing right? It hasn’t proven unsafe, so it must be safe, right?

  3. “Take off your ‘I hate anything that corporate America makes money off of’ glasses.”

    OK, Manapp, you saw through my smokescreen.   It’s true, I hate capitalism, rich people are Evil and I want a communist regime to take over our country.

    Seriously, is that the best talking point you can come up with? I don’t care what Monsanto manufactures or who uses it in their products; but the public has a right to know what they’re buying. Monsanto has no right — through their prostitute “legislators ” — to prevent a company from stating that their product doesn’t contain a certain growth hormone.

    I suppose the people in that lobbying group are actually farmers, technically at least. My guess is, they own the land that’s being farmed but they’ve never gotten their own hands dirty or done any sort of physical labor. I realize that farms have gotten huge, and the term “farmer” doesn’t necessarily mean somebody who gets up at 5 a.m. to plow the fields or feed the livestock.

    I worked on a dairy farm one summer during high school, and that person wouldn’t have had a spare minute to join a lobbying group.

  4. Tom, you say this:

    “Monsanto has no right — through their prostitute “legislato rs ” — to prevent a company from stating that their product doesn’t contain a certain growth hormone.”

    The article you link has this:

    Ben & Jerry’s packaging says “the FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated and untreated cows.”

    All milk contains hormones and rBGH which is a man made hormone virtually identical to natural bovine hormones. Again, you cannot test milk and detect whether the hormones present are real or Monsanto.
    There is no difference in the levels of BGH in the milk from treated to untreated cows. But there is about a 10% greater milk production from treated cows. Here is an excellent link on rGBH:

    http://www.s ciencenews.o rg/articles/ 20031101/foo d.asp

    And this quote:

    Argues IDFA: “FDA and the World Health Organization concluded in 1992 that any reported increase in IGF-1 levels in milk from rBST-supplem ented cows is still insignifican t, a finding that has been repeatedly reinforced by other scientific bodies.” Moreover, FDA says, IGF-1 in breast milk “is at about the same concentratio n as that found in bovine milk” from both rBST-treated and untreated cows (SN: 1/27/96, p. 52).”

    “none of these statements, however, has stemmed debate on use of the hormone. Natural food advocates and some environmenta lists have argued that rBST injections are unnecessary and risk unduly stressing cows. FDA and livestock scientists have discounted the latter. What’s more, some alternative strategies for increasing milk production, such as milking cows more often, in themselves stress the animals (SN: 5/5/84, p. 282).”

    As far as the countries that have not approved rGHB for use there is this:

    “today, an estimated third of U.S. dairy producers administer rBST to their cows, IDFA maintains. In a position statement on the hormone, it reports that “Canada and the European Union, which have not approved rBST for use in their dairy herds, concede that there is no public health risk associated with milk from supplemented cows.”

    There is NO public health risk. Gee, isn’t that the bottom line. More milk, no health risk.

    Ben and Jerry’s is playing on the hype and the label of rGBH free milk used is a ploy to play on the misguided fears ginned up by the “organic” crowd. The worry is that uneducated consumers will think B and J’s safer or other brands less safe. This is just not true. Aren’t you for truth in advertising? Don’t you see how B and J’s are using this as a marketing ploy?

    Like I said, I personally don’t care what they put on the label as I don’t choose my product based on “all natural” or “organic” claims. But there is a worry that B and J’s may steal business based not on the quality of the ice cream (which is very good anyway) but on a dubious claim in labeling.

  5. Paul, I have posted two times answering your arguments, however they did not appear. Sorry.

  6. manapp,
    Not a problem, it just means the hacks I put in are working. ;-)

  7. Paul, this link is about cotton yields in India:

    http://www.s ciencemag.or g/cgi/conten t/abstract/2 99/5608/900? etoc

    “Onfarm field trials carried out with Bacillus thuringiensi s (Bt) cotton in different states of India show that the technology substantiall y reduces pest damage and increases yields. The yield gains are much higher than what has been reported for other countries where genetically modified crops were used mostly to replace and enhance chemical pest control. In many developing countries, small-scale farmers especially suffer big pest-related yield losses because of technical and economic constraints. Pest-resista nt genetically modified crops can contribute to increased yields and agricultural growth in those situations, as the case of Bt cotton in India demonstrates .”

    From this link about GE crop in general. Note the emphasis on GE crops reducing carbon dioxide emissions. A subject near and dear to the progressive, or so I thought.

    http://www.a gbioworld.or g/newsletter _wm/index.ph p?caseid=arc hive&newsid= 2656

    “Biotech Crops Help World’s Farmers ‘Go Green’

    - U.S. Grains Council, March 8, 2007, http://www.e arthtimes.or g/articles/s how/news_pre ss_release,7 1854.shtml

    Biotech crops have produced a decade of improvements in yield and net farm income for grain, oilseed and cotton farmers. Now, according to a peer-reviewe d study on the crops’ global economic and environmenta l impact, the benefits are “clear” — especially reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.”

    and this:

    “Combining biotech insect-resis tant and herbicide-to lerant traits in corn has boosted farm income by more than $3.1 billion since the traits’ introduction s, Brookes noted.

    The largest gains in farm income have come from biotech soybean and largely from cost savings. In 2005, herbicide-to lerant soybean generated $2.84 billion additional income — adding about 7 percent to the value of the crop in biotech soybean growing countries.”

    and this:

    “The study’s documentatio n of biotech crops’ increased productivity and reduced environmenta l impact comes at a good time. “We are constantly being asked if North America can produce enough corn to meet food, fuel and export needs,” said U.S. Grains Council Chairman Vic Miller, an Iowa corn producer. “The answer is yes, especially with the help of biotechnolog y. This study goes a long way toward documenting the production increases achieved with biotech crops. And greater yields mean more corn for ethanol, which — unlike fossil fuels — removes carbon dioxide from the air each time a new corn plant sprouts. Reduced environmenta l impact through biotech crop use is becoming an important selling point as we communicate with our grain trading partners.”

    Feed more poor and reduce carbon emissions, seems like a win win to me.

    There is, however this to consider:

    “Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorologic al Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

    To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better “eyes” with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth’s climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

    And they’re worried about global cooling, not warming.”

    http://ibded itorial.com/ IBDArticles. aspx?id=2872 79412587175

    It the planet does indeed cool, we are going to need to get the biggest bang for the buck in crop growth as growing seasons will shrink.
    Maybe the government will institute a SUV giveaway to try and warm the planet.

  8. Paul, my latest post is awaiting moderation.
    Coming soon to a blog near you.

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