Filed Under: Organic Activists

Organic Activists: Consumers Have “Right” To (Incomplete) Information

Last month we gave you a brief update on the latest chapter in anti-technology, “organic only” activism: the smear campaign against milk from cows supplemented with Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, sometimes called rBST. The governor of Ohio had enacted a temporary rule for milk labels, requiring “rBST-free” marketing claims to include a disclaimer indicating that those absence claims are totally meaningless with regard to food safety and nutritional value.
Now that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is thinking about adopting the new rule permanently, organic activists are pulling out the cow costumes and trying desperately to convince Ohioans that the extra information on these marketing labels will be an assault on consumers’ “rights.” As the Associated Press reported yesterday:

The rule’s critics say the disclaimer requirement makes the label so long that some producers will simply go without any label. And they say the proposed rule actually limits consumer information and prevents them from making an educated choice.
“Consumers have a right to know how their food was produced and retailers, processors, and producers have a right to give them that information,” said Carol Goland, executive director of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. “The current rule infringes on those rights.”

Yes, activists are trying to perpetuate a lucrative dairy fad by arguing that consumers have a “right” not to have long labels with complete information.
Anti-rBST activists’ claims about the alleged “health risks” of rBST-supplemented milk have been debunked time after time after time (in addition to the 120 + studies that the FDA reviewed before approving the product). There are no proven health benefits to buying “rBST-free” milk, and saying so on a label will be the beginning of the end of the profitable misinformation campaign against perfectly healthy (and cheaper) “regular” milk.
If even a biochemist can’t tell the difference between “rBST-free” milk and conventional milk, how can milk producers guarantee consumers’ “right” to know what is (or isn’t) in it?
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has until 5 p.m. today to decide whether to make its temporary rule permanent. We agree with the Dover, Ohio Times-Reporter:

We hope state officials won’t be swayed by the antics of protesters dressed in cow suits or by bogus claims that the rule interferes with free speech…If consumers want to buy hormone-free milk, more power to them…
We suspect, though, that this controversy has more to do with marketing milk than making milk safe. It fits into the current craze for organic foods. Milk that’s free of rbST may ease consumers’ concerns, but it’ll also likely lighten their wallets.

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