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Dairy products

Two large dairies to drop use of rBST in bid to compete with organic milk

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: dairy products, dairy industry, milk


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(NewsTarget) Two of New England's largest dairies recently began ridding their bottled milk of artificial growth hormones to keep up with consumers' growing demands for organic milk, which has enjoyed steady growth over traditional milk.

Dean Foods and H.P. Hood are now demanding that regional dairy farmers provide them with milk from cows that haven't been injected with Monsanto's synthetic growth hormone Posilac -- better known by the acronym rBST -- designed to stimulate extra milk production in cows.

"The phenomenal success of organic milk, with growth rates of 20 percent or more, is driving our demand for milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones," says Hood CEO John Kaneb.

Marguerite Copel, spokeswoman for Dean, says that although the FDA has approved artificial growth hormones, "some people don't feel comfortable with it," so the company has switched eight of its 100 nationwide dairy plants to hormone-free cows.

The changes being made by Hood and Dean Foods are the first large-scale conversions toward synthetic hormone-free milk, though smaller dairies frequently market rBST-free products. If more dairies join Dean and Hood, the use of synthetic growth hormones in mainstream milk could be a thing of the past.

Though rBST-free milk is not organic milk -- which comes from cows fed organic feed and allowed access to pastures -- sales of organic milk have increased over the past three years to $1.1 billion. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic milk sales are increasing despite the fact that organic milk can cost from $6 to $7.50 per gallon, compared to the $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon for conventional milk.

"This decision by dairies is great news for consumers, and it shows the power of consumer demand to encourage food producers to reform their practices," says Mike Adams, author of "Grocery Warning,"a book detailing the health dangers of processed food and dairy products. "But even with this announcement, the practices of conventional dairy producers continue to be abusive to animals, harmful to the environment and unhealthy for humans."

Although artificial hormone-free milk is becoming a more widely available option for consumers, many say they will continue to only buy organic milk because it indicates that the cows it comes from have been treated well.

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