When Walmart takes a position in the marketplace, it’s hard not to notice. There’s little doubt that Monsanto hasn’t taken notice of Walmart’s decision to no longer carry milk from cows injected with Posilac, the synthetic growth hormone produced by Monsanto since 1994.
Some believe Walmart is delivering the knock-out blow, following behind other food retailers such as Kroger, Safeway and Starbucks in banning dairy products containing (or produced through the use of) recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). In 2006 Dean Foods, producer of 2 billion gallons of milk per year, made the decision to stop using Posilac.
While Monsanto and, thus far, the FDA (who approved the use of Posilac in 1993) claim there are no health risks to humans from rBGH – it doesn’t really seem very pleasant for the cows. The claims of the FDA and Monsanto notwithstanding, there are concerns about the effects of rBGH in humans. Use of rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada.
There are no labeling requirements for dairy products produced using growth hormone. In a curious twist (at least to me) some dairy producers have petitioned the FDA to block the labeling of milk and other dairy products produced without the use of rBGH – claiming the label of “organic” (or at least made with no synthetic growth hormone) is misleading to the consumer since there is no evidence that organic products are any safer or more nutritious than products produced with synthetic growth hormone.
But it all may be in vain.
On the first hand, there is ample evidence of the ill-effects growth hormones have on the cows themselves, and even if we don’t really care so much for the cows (and we should), those ill-effects make their way up the food chain and into our glass of milk.
And on the second hand, Walmart (and others) move on what the consumer wants. And that appears to be milk, cheese, and yogurt produced from dairy cows free of rBGH.
As goes Walmart, so goes rBGH. Maybe its time for Monsanto to throw in the towel.