Consumer rejection forces Monsanto out genetically engineered bovine growth hormones

Monsanto announced yesterday that it is getting out of the business of producing bovine growth hormone rBST, a genetically engineered (GE) product to increase milk production in dairy cows. The move comes after global consumer and market rejection of the product, with companies like Safeway, Starbucks and Kraft recently announcing they are removing milk produced using rBST in many of their products. This year, Monsanto failed in their attempt to stem consumer rejection, losing bids in several states which would have prevented dairies from labelling their products as rBST free.

Milk and cheese made with rBST has been banned in Canada and Europe for the past decade. “This is a big victory for American and Canadian consumers. The massive and sustained rejection rBST milk highlights even further the need we have in Canada to provide labelling of genetically engineered foods.” said Josh Brandon, agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace.

In Canada, rBST was banned in 1998 after scientists within Health Canada, publicly raised health and safety concerns about the product. Some of the health concerns of rBST include: toxic effects on cows such as mastitis, increased contamination of pus and antibiotics in milk, and increased levels of a cancer causing, agent IGF-1. rBST was approved in the United States 1993.

“If genetically engineered products like these were safe, Monsanto would put ‘made with GE’ in big block letters on all their products. Instead they are doing everything they can to obstruct consumer’s right to know what they are eating. But eventually their strategy backfires, once consumers start asking questions about the health and environmental safety of GE products,” said Brandon.