Hightower: Bovine Growth Hormone

Have you seen those great ads being run by the milk industry -- the ones featuring Joan Rivers, Gabriella Sabatini, Christie Brinkley and other celebrities, each one posing with a milk mustache on their face? It's a clever way to remind us grown-ups of the childhood joy of having a big, cold glass of wholesome milk. But Holy Cow, look out! What the big milk processors don't advertise is that your milk mustache might contain more than you bargained for. It's estimated that about a third of America's dairy herds now are treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone -- or BGH -- a synthetic chemical manufactured by Monsanto to force cows to squeeze out more milk. Since most of us don't want our children getting a daily dose of artificial hormones, those clever milk marketers are trying to tip-toe past our concerns buy simply not telling us which carton is nature's own milk -- and which one is Monsant's surprise! But lo and behold, it's the purveyors of this doped-up milk who've gotten the surprise. The little state of Vermont had passed a law requiring them to label and BGH milk sold there, giving Vermont consumers the power to decide for themselves if they want the additive. In a flash, six national diary-trade groups stampeded into federal court, with a whole herd of lawyers to stop the state from implementing this law. But to their "udder" shock, the judge ruled for the people! The industry immediately appealed, but the appeals court, too, has now okayed the new law, and such giants as Kraft and Land O'Lakes are labeling their BGH products in Vermont. This David and Goliath battle is long from over, but the good folks in Vermont are showing all of us that we don't have to go along like a bunch of docile cows with every bad idea big industry tries to force-feed us.

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