Monsanto sues small dairy for advertising its milk as containing no artificial hormones

Monsanto has sued a small dairy in Maine for advertising its milk as containing no artificial hormones (hence implying that there’s something wrong with rBST, the hormone made by Monsanto to increase milk production in dairy cattle).
Noted below are contacts at Monsanto, both media contacts and corporate level contacts.

Following the contact info are two articles from local Maine papers, explaining the lawsuit.

If you are so moved, please call and/or fax any or all of the contacts noted, to express your opinion.

(My POV is that this is a particularly heavy-handed opening salvo by Monsanto to discourage farmers and food pr0ducers from disclosing whether or not they use genetically modified/artificial/etc. products when producing food. I would rather be able to make my own choices, thank you.) Thanks for taking the time to read!

All the best,
Victoria

Monsanto Corporation
Media Contacts:
Lori Fisher 314-694-8535
Scarlett Lee Foster 314-694-8148 (investors)
Matthew Harbaugh 314-694-7867 (investors)

800 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63167
(314) 694-1000
FAX: (314) 694-4903

Email: queries.media (at) monsanto.com

Sarah S. Hull
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs

Frank AtLee III
Chairman of the Board

Hugh Grant
President and Chief Executive Officer

Monsanto Company Law Team
Barbara Bunning-Stevens
Copyright Law
barbara.a.bunning-stevens (at) monsanto.com
800 North Lindbergh Blvd.
E2NA
St. Louis, MO 63167


Newspaper Articles

Monsanto Sues Small Maine Dairy for Advertising Its Milk as ‘Artificial Growth Hormone-free’…

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine)
Lawsuit Reflects Fight Over Altered Food
by Edward D. Murphy

Monsanto Corp.’s decision to sue Oakhurst Dairy this week highlights an
emerging battle over the widespread use of genetically altered food.
So far, consumers seem to be moving to the side that favors “food that
has not been modified by somebody going in and monkeying about with the
genes,” said Kevin Coupe, a retail analyst who produces the Web site
morningnewsbeat.com.
” One of the biggest (food) categories right now is natural and organic
foods,” Coupe said. “There’s a reason why it’s growing.”
Still, Coupe said consumers in the United States are generally less
concerned by genetic modifications to foods than those in Europe, where
many countries have banned the import of food that’s been altered by
biotechnology.
Food is genetically altered for a number of reasons, such as improving
yields, extending shelf lives or increasing resistance to insects or
plant diseases.
Most of the modifications produce benefits beyond greater yields,
including reduced use of pesticides, less waste or less need for
irrigation.
In many ways, genetic engineering resembles the process of
cross-breeding plants that agriculture has perfected for years as a way
to create improve crops. In the case of genetic modifications, however,
the work is done in the laboratory, not the field, and can involve
moving genes from one species to another.
Monsanto, one of the country’s largest biotechnology firms, announced
this week that it is suing Oakhurst Dairy of Portland because the dairy
markets the fact that its milk comes from farmers who pledge not to
give artificial growth hormones to their cows.
Monsanto said the hormones, which it manufactures, don’t produce milk
any different from milk produced by cows that aren’t fed the hormones.
Oakhurst’s marketing pitch, Monsanto claims, suggests otherwise and
deceives consumers.
Douglas Johnson, (mailto: djohnson (at) greentreecommunications.com ) executive director of the Stonington-based Maine Biotechnology Information Bureau, said much of the opposition to genetically altered foods is based on “junk science.”
” As long as the plants have been through the (testing) process and are
demonstrated to be safe for human consumption and benign to the
environment, it should be allowed to be sold,” Johnson said. “This
argument is more about philosophy than science, and if its a
philosophical one, the government ought to stay out of it.”
Both Coupe and Johnson agree that labeling food with more information
about how it was produced would be beneficial.
” People ought to be free to eat whatever they want – and they ought to
know what it is,” Johnson said.
Coupe said Monsanto’s lawsuit suggests that there’s something wrong
with using hormones that the company doesn’t want consumers to know
about.
” The last thing we need as consumers in this country is companies that
don’t want to tell us something,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘Do it our
way, or we’ll sue you.’ ”
Coupe said consumers want to know where their food comes from, whether
it’s been genetically altered in any way and how it was grown. Fears of
bioterrorism are also on people’s minds.
” People are very concerned about what they put in their mouths and what
they feed their kids,” he said. “Part of it, you could trace back to
Sept. 11, but it also predates that.”
He said much of that concern comes about because people can learn about
the arguments over genetic alterations quickly, on the Internet, and
they may be worried about the long-term implications.
Other consumers, he said, don’t want to do the research, but they also
don’t want to take chances with the food they eat and opt for organic
brands.
Chains such as Wild Oats appeal to both groups by saying, ” ‘We have
food that hasn’t been messed with and therefore it’s better for you.’
Because it’s such an unambiguous message, you don’t have to figure it
out,” Coupe said. “There’s something to be said for simplicity.”
But Johnson said that attitude is simplistic in a world where there’s
not enough food.
” It’s really becoming a question of whether we can feed the 9 billion
people that are going to be here by 2050, and the answer is, without
this technology, we can’t,” he said.
Johnson said most genetically altered foods end up in processed foods,
such as those containing soy-based oils or some corn products. He said
there are some estimates that 60 percent of the food sold in the United
States contains ingredients that have been genetically modified.
” You find that, certainly, there are unknowns, but the risk-assessment
system has found that the benefits outweigh the risks,” Johnson said.
” When you talk about feeding the world, organic doesn’t even fit it.
There are too many people who don’t have any food at all.”

Copyright © Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Oakhurst Sued by Monsanto Over Milk Advertising

Tuesday, July 8, 2003 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine)
by Matt Wickenheiser

Biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. has sued Oakhurst Dairy of Portland,
saying Oakhurst’s claim that its milk doesn’t contain any artificial
growth hormones is essentially misleading.
Monsanto, based in Missouri, claims there is no scientific proof that
the milk is any different from that produced by cows that have been
treated with the hormones.
” We believe Oakhurst labels deceive consumers; they’re marketing a
perception that one milk product is safer or of higher quality than
other milk,” said Jennifer Garrett, director of technical services for
Monsanto’s dairy business. “Numerous scientific and regulatory reviews
throughout the world demonstrate that that’s unfounded. The milk is the
same, and the amount of protein, fats, nutrients, etc., are all the
same.”
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, demands that Oakhurst
stop advertising that it doesn’t use milk from hormone-treated cows. It
also asks that the dairy stop putting labels reading “Our Farmers’
Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones” on its milk jugs.
This is the first such suit in a decade filed by Monsanto. But it’s
related to the global debate about genetically engineered foods. Most
of Europe has banned the import or production of what opponents call
” Frankenfoods.” Biotechnology researchers and corporations say that
scientific advances boost productivity to levels that could help
easeglobal hunger.
Although the Food and Drug Administration approved the bovine growth
hormone, or BGH, Canada and the European Union have banned it. Some
organizations and consumers who oppose use of artificial growth
hormones claim they are linked to breast cancer and premature puberty
in children.
Monsanto is the nation’s largest producer of the synthetically produced
hormone, which enhances milk production. Five years ago, Oakhurst began
to make sure all of its milk comes from farms that pledge in writing
every six months with a notarized affidavit that they won’t use the
hormones on their herds, said Stanley T. Bennett II, president of the
dairy.
” Consumers have let us know since the advent of these artificial growth
hormones that they don’t want to have to worry about (them). If
consumers tell us they don’t want anything added to the milk, or if
they have a concern about something, we’re going to respond to them as
a company,” said Bennett.
” We have said from the beginning that we make no claims to understand
the science involved with artificial growth hormones,” he said. “We’re
in the business of marketing milk, not Monsanto’s drugs.”
The labeling is a market distinguisher for Oakhurst, said Bennett, and
is so important to the dairy that it pays a premium of 20 cents on
every 100 pounds of milk for the notarized guarantee. That would amount
to $500,000 in 2002, when Oakhurst processed 250 million pounds of
milk.
Lee Quarles, a spokesman for the Missouri company, said the suit was
filed because Monsanto believes Oakhurst’s ads and labels are deceptive
and also disparaged Monsanto’s products with the inference that milk
from untreated cows was better than milk from hormone- treated cows.
Oakhurst was also stepping up its advertising and marketing efforts in
recent months, leading to the lawsuit, said Quarles.
” If in fact they are attempting to stop us from using our labeling, I
think it strikes me as very odd that somebody could conceivably
prohibit a company from telling people what’s not in their product,”
said Bennett. “On principle, it’s also a question of free speech. The
world seems a little bit discombobulated when somebody attempts to
prohibit you from trying to do the right thing.”
According to Monsanto’s Garrett, an independent market study conducted
in Massachusetts shopping malls showed that more than two-thirds of the
300 people surveyed thought that milk with the Oakhurst labels was
healthier to drink than milk without such labels. Sixty percent of
those surveyed thought Oakhurst milk was safer to drink, Garrett said.
Bennett said his small dairy, which employs 240 and had $85 million in
sales last year, has been ignored by Monsanto until recently. He
speculated that the attention may come because other, larger milk
producers are considering taking similar anti-hormone steps in their
marketing campaigns.
In 2002, Monsanto had net sales of $4.7 billion, net losses of $1.7
billion and working assets of $8.9 billion.
Quarles said Monsanto has not filed similar lawsuits against other
dairies, but wouldn’t say whether more were planned. Monsanto filed
similar suits against two dairies in Illinois about 10 years ago, said
Quarles, and both were settled out of court under confidential terms.
The suit against Oakhurst claims unfair competition, unfair business
practices and interference with advantageous business relationships.
According to the suit, the business relationships between Monsanto and
dairy producers who use the artificial growth hormone have suffered
because the farmers will stop using the treatments. Garrett wouldn’t
say whether any of Monsanto’s customers have stopped the treatments
because of Oakhurst’s marketing practices.
This isn’t the first time Monsanto has had issues with dairy product
labeling in Maine. Earlier this year, Attorney General Steven Rowe
rejected a request by the company that Maine abandon its Quality
Trademark Seal program that indicates when milk is free of artificial
growth hormones.
Monsanto argued that the seal, adopted in 1994, misleads consumers into
thinking that hormone-free milk is superior to milk using an artificial
growth hormone. Both Oakhurst and H.P. Hood dairies use the seal to
promote their products.

One Response to Monsanto sues small dairy for advertising its milk as containing no artificial hormones

  1. Len Miskulin says:

    We all know that MonSatan has a lot to hide, like the fact that there is revolving door between them and FDA endlessly passing “executives” from one to other. Most people have possibly heard about case of Indian GMO cotton which has caused many Indian farmers to commit suicide and increased pollution through forced massively increased use of Roundup. In soy only about an eight of DNA has been tested out of 250+ strands and nobody knows what imprecise “science” of DNA modification is actually doing but it has been passed as fit for human consumption. and we should avoid even natural soy as it is NOT fit for human consumption.
    However, Monsatan’s case against small dairy is just the of establishing precedent – we do as we want and we destroy you if you challenge us.
    I see Monsatan as ultimate evil backed up by the “elite” who is trying to deliberately eradicate us.

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