Monday, June 02, 2008

Ted salutes a food labeling victory in Missouri

People routinely ask me about the farm groups and activist organizations Farm Aid supports through its annual grant program. The Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) is a prime example, and it has just scored another huge victory for family farmers and consumers in Missouri.

MRCC is an organization that emerged during the 1980s farm crisis. The folks who head the organization really know their stuff when it comes to getting family farmers organized and speaking with one voice. Its latest campaign challenged a Monsanto-backed idea to ban any type of labeling that would tell consumers whether or not their milk came from cows treated with rGBH, a genetically engineered hormone that forces cows to produce more milk. There are lots of consumers who do not want these hormones in their milk and others who feel the hormone is bad for animal health. In the words of one Wisconsin dairy farmer, “rGBH burns the cows out.”

In many states, dairy farmers have rejected Posilac and have begun putting a label on their milk cartons letting consumers know the milk is rGBH-free. Monsanto produces the hormone and sells it to dairy farmers under the brand name Posilac. The company wants to keep consumers in the dark about its use, hence the labeling ban in Missouri.

MRCC acted fast to challenge the proposed ban on labeling, which it said was “Anti-farm, anti-consumer and anti-business.” The group put together a classic grass roots campaign, engaging its family farmer members and others to persuade the state that the ban was a bad idea. It worked. A few days ago the ban was rejected.

Monsanto has tried to get other states to ban rGBH-free labeling. Another Farm Aid supported organization, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) successfully led efforts in that state to defeat such a ban.

These unified actions around the country give strength to the Good Food Movement and show again that farmers and consumers working together can win against the corporate agri-business interests that control such a huge part of our food supply.

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