Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tell Gov. Rendell--we have a right to know!

Our friends at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Campaign for Safe Food sent us this alert. Rick North, the group’s project director, writes:

Six weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture issued new rules that would ban any kind of dairy labels informing consumers that the products came from cows not injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). It is quite obvious this was instigated by Monsanto, the only corporation that produces the drug. Moreover, it is trying the same tactic in other states, including New Jersey, Ohio and Washington. As more and more dairies go rBGH-free in response to consumer demand, Monsanto and its supporters are trying to take away our ability to differentiate dairy products, all to save its diminishing profits.

Working in conjunction with numerous national and Pennsylvania-based organizations, we have mobilized a massive response to PA’s governor Ed Rendell to rescind this attack on consumers’ right to know what’s in their food and companies’ right to tell them. This is censorship.
Rick adds that this isn’t just a Pennsylvania issue. This ban applies to all dairy products sold in the state, affecting dairies all over the country. He’s asked AfD to sign on to a letter protesting the label change, initiated by Consumers Union (we will!), and to ask all our members to call, write, or email Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell protesting the rules change. Read CU's statement and letter here. Calls and letters have already delayed implementation, according to Rick. Let’s keep the pressure up!

So please send a comment to Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, protesting the state’s upcoming ban on any kind of rBGH-free type labeling. If you already have, thank you! To send an e-mail directly, use governor@state.pa.us or you can go to this section of the governor’s website. To telephone the Governor's Office call: (717) 787-2500. To fax, the number is (717)-772-8242. And to mail a letter, use this address: Governor Edward G. Rendell's Office, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

If you only have a minute, these are the two most critical points to make: 1) Consumers have the right to know what’s in their food, and 2) Dairies have the right to inform consumers what’s in their products.

If you have more time, here’s more talking points:
  • There are significant differences between rBGH and rBGH-free milk. Scientists in the U.S., Canada and the European Union have all questioned the safety of rBGH, especially in increasing the risks of cancer and antibiotic resistance in humans. Codex Alimentarius, the United Nations main food safety body, TWICE decided it could not endorse the safety of rBGH for human health.
  • There is no doubt that rBGH increases disease rates in dairy cows – even the FDA acknowledges this and the health risks are listed right on the rBGH package insert. In addition to having concerns about human health, Canada and the European Union have banned the use of rBGH officially on animal welfare grounds. Virtually every animal protection agency in the country, including the Humane Society of the U.S. and Animal Protection Institute, opposes it.
  • Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of over 440 organizations in 52 countries promoting safe and healthy practices in hospitals, has stated its official opposition to rBGH based on human and animal health risks.
  • We’re not confused about these labels and we’re not stupid – we know exactly what they mean. This ban isn’t about protecting consumers, it’s about protecting Monsanto’s profits.
  • The more consumers learn about rBGH, the more they want rBGH-free products. Our right to make an informed buying decision is being suppressed by the state of Pennsylvania.
Please ask friends and family to send a message, too. Our rights as consumers and citizens are being denied - we must stand up to Monsanto and all the other corporations that think they can influence policy to profit off uninformed consumers.
For a brochure on the issue, click here. For a good article in the business section of the New York Times, see here.

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