Declining Share of Dairy Cows Treated with Controversial Product
WASHINGTON, Today, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced the purchase of Monsanto‚ artificial dairy hormone rBGH and its product line Posilac despite dwindling support by retailers, falling market share of dairy operators and widespread consumer distaste for milk from cows treated with the artificial hormone. In the past few years, grocery chains Kroger, Wal-Mart, Safeway and Publix have all switched their store brand milk to certified rBGH-free milk. According to USDA figures, rBGH was applied to 22 percent of dairy cows in 2002 but only 17 percent of cows in 2007, a 22 percent decline in Posilac‚ market share.
“Eli Lilly is not helping its shareholders by buying a product that the marketplace is already abandoning,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Consumers don’t want to drink milk produced with artificial hormones, retailers don’t want to sell it and fewer and fewer dairy farmers are using it.”
Monsanto has spent the past year trying to shore up the Posilac product by pressing state governments to limit “artificial hormone-free” labels and deny consumers the right to know whether the rBGH hormone was used to produce their milk. Monsanto‚ efforts to undermine rBGH-free labeling in Ohio are being challenged in court, and its efforts in other states have been even less successful with no other state supporting the anti-consumer rule changes so far. More than four out of five consumers support allowing dairies to use some form of “rBGH-free” labeling, according to a 2007 survey commissioned by Food & Water Watch.
“Eli Lilly must halt Monsanto‚ anti-consumer campaign against rBGH-free labeling immediately,” added Hauter. “Families deserve to know what is in the milk their children drink. Eli Lilly should turn the page on Monsanto‚ shroud of secrecy and support allowing simple, clear labels for milk produced without its new Posilac-product in the interest of consumers.”