Time for another Gooberhead Award [Beanie Cap Breakdown] – presented periodically to people in the news who have their tongues running 100 miles an hour… but forgot to put their brains in gear.
Today’s Goober is no one you’ve heard of, but he’s messing with your consumer rights. Dennis Wolff is his name, Pennsylvania’s secretary of agriculture. He’s siding with Monsanto Corporation against his own state’s organic dairy farmers who don’t add BGH to their milk.
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What’s BGH? Essentially, it’s an artificial sex hormone made by Monsanto to force cows to give more milk. Since consumers naturally prefer not to have hormone additives in their families’ milk, organic producers and others who don’t add them to their products have been labeling their milk as free of Monsanto’s hormone, thus giving consumers a clear choice.
This honest marketing tactic has PO’d Monsanto, which has sent its lobbyists scurrying around the country to demand that state officials ban such labeling. You’d think that this would be laughed off as absurd – but not in Pennsylvania. Secretary Wolff recently rose up on his hind legs and howled at the organic producers, decreeing that they can’t use “absence labeling,” which informs shoppers what is not in their products. This Gooberhead is cracking down on labels that say such things as “no artificial hormones,” “pesticide free,” and “antibiotic free,” – even though the labels are true.
Why? Because, he says, absence labeling “confuses” consumers. Indeed, Wolff claimed he has received many calls from confused consumers. But, alas, when asked who, specifically, had complained… he could not produce a single name.
Still, Wolff’s ban has set a precedent, and Monsanto’s lobbyists are moving into other states. To fight back, call the Organic Consumers Association: 218-226-4164.
Consumers Won’t Know What They’re Missing,” The New York Times, November 11, 2007