Advocates Push For Hormone-Free Milk In Schools

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Members of the group Food and Water Watch delivered petitions to ban artificial growth hormones from school lunch milk to Senator Sherrod Brown’s Columbus office. Brown sits on the Senate’s Agriculture and Nutrition Committee. The hormone, RGBH, is used by some dairy farmers to boost milk production. Group organizer Alex Beauchamp says consumers have rejected rBGH in recent years – which he argues has been linked to cancer in humans. Beauchamp notes big corporations like Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Starbucks have all decided to switch to rBGH-free milk.

“And the real worry is that, as consumers reject this, that schools become a dumping ground – where, you know, kids don’t have a choice. So there are fewer places that farmers who use rBGH can actually sell their milk, and the worry is that it goes to places like schools where there isn’t much choice,” says Beauchamp. Beauchamp says the language Food and Water Watch wants in the Child Nutrition Act would allow rBGH milk if the cost to school districts was prohibitive. But Beach-um says there is almost no price difference between milk artificial hormones and milk without it. Dairy Farmers oppose the legislation. Ohio Dairy Producers Association spokeswoman Jenny Hubble maintains the hormones are safe – the FDA has approved its use. Hubble says the proposed change would hurt farmers who choose to use rGBH. “Pursuing recommendations by Food and Water Watch would be costly and burdensome for schools and yield no benefits to students,” says Hubble.

And Hubble argues that even milk labeled as hormone-free contains small amounts of naturally occurring hormones.