Day: February 5, 2008

Monsanto Ashamed of Selling Bovine Growth Hormone

Why else do they not want people to know that their product is being used? You would think that Monsanto with its millions in profits and its monopoly in bovine growth hormone, would let the free market decide whether people want their ice cream/milk rBGH free or not. Surely, wouldn’t Monsanto’s commanding market presence, and the simple fact that conventional milk supplied by hormone injected cows tends to be cheaper than rBGH free milk be a sufficient counterweight against a simple rBGH free label?

The ice cream maker has joined a national campaign to block what critics say is an effort driven by Monsanto (MON), which markets recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH.The hormone, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to boost production in dairy cows in the early 1990s, was not approved in Canada, Japan or the European Union, largely out of concern it may be harmful to animals.A newly formed dairy producers’ group, backed by Monsanto, is pushing for labeling changes, saying hormone-free labels imply that the milk is safer than other milk, when they say it’s not.

Ben & Jerry’s in fight over hormone labeling – USATODAY.com

This is a classic strawman’s argument. I don’t know if there is sufficient evidence to show that hormone filled milk is harmful to humans, but there is sufficient evidence that it is harmful to cows. As always, I point to the Meatrix (Note, available on youtube as well, but embedding has been disabled…).

Here’s a letter from the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility summarizing the harmful effects of rBGH.

  1. Increase in IGF-1 levels – possible link to cancer in humans
  2. Mastitis in Cows – Do you want your breasts infected and painfully inflamed? That’s what RBGH does to cows
  3. Antibiotics Resistance – To combat mastitis, the cows are pumped with antibiotics, which end up in the solid waste, and water runoff.
  4. 15 other side effects in cows, bad enough that Canada and the EU do not permit this growth hormone

All right, the product is still legal here in the US and I absolutely respect Monsanto’s right to sell it, fight for it and conduct a vigorous product defense (including obligatory astroturf group rbstfacts). But stop trying to get the government to do your dirty work for you and “banning” companies from telling consumers that they did not use your product, it’s shameful and unnecessary.

Consumers have a right to pay premium for a product that they think is superior for one reason or the other. It is anti-free market and protectionist to restrict information that will help these consumers decide.

What next? We all know that cosmetics tested on animals are not more harmful to people than animal cruelty free cosmetics. Shouldn’t that label be banned as well?

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Casuarina plantations and the Olive Ridley

The Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network was featured in the Hindu today.

Sea turtle lovers are concerned at the disturbance caused to turtle nesting habitats along the Tamil Nadu coastline, where casuarinas have been raised by the State Forest Department.The sea turtle’s egg-laying season began a month ago. Volunteers of the Chennai-based Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) had written to the World Bank stating that the Forest Department should reverse the damage done.The SSTCN also wanted the Bank to provide funds for taking up transplantation work.Akila Balu, co-ordinator, SSTCN, said after the tsunami, the World Bank funded an Emergency Tsunami Reconstruction Project (ETRP) in Tamil Nadu.Under this programme, the State Forest Department had taken up the work of raising casuarina plantations to act as a bio-shield on the coastline. The casuarina saplings were planted right up to the high-tide line. In the process, it eliminated large stretches of sea turtle nesting habitat.Department’s defenceA senior Forest Department official said casuarinas had not been raised all along the State coastline.Adequate space had been provided between each sapling through which the turtles could enter the sand and lay eggs.The ETRP is a conservation-oriented programme, and so far the department has not received any complaints that the casuarina plantation had affected egg-laying of the Olive Ridleys, the official said.“In most of the areas, the saplings are not touching the high-tide line. If we plant closer to the line, the saplings will not survive. On the whole, the plantation will surely not affect the egg-laying turtles,” the official added.

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Chennai News : “Casuarina plantations affecting turtle nesting habitats”

To find out more, visit the SSTCN website.

cross-posted at the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network

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Whales Protected from Navy for Now

The Navy is not “exempted from compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act” and a court injunction creating a 12 nautical-mile no-sonar zone off Southern California, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote in a 36-page decision.

“We disagree with the (exemption) judge’s decision,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “We believe the (exemption) orders are legal and appropriate.”Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Cindy Moore said the military was studying the decision.

The president signed a waiver January 15 exempting the Navy and its anti-submarine warfare exercises from a preliminary injunction creating a 12 nautical-mile no-sonar zone off Southern California. The Navy’s attorneys argued in court last week that he was within his legal rights.

Judge to Navy: Limit sonar training – CNN.com

There is little doubt that sonar severely disrupts whale communication and can lead to bizarre behavior and decompression sickness. Here’s a video (narrated by Pierce Brosnan, no less!) that sheds some light on this issue.