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The Organic Trade Association last week told the Indiana State Department of Agriculture's Milk Labeling Working Group at a meeting in Indianapolis that it opposes any proposed state regulation on dairy labeling that would affect the way organic dairy products are labeled concerning the synthetic growth hormone rBGH.
"Any proposed restriction would prevent organic dairy farmers and processors from truthfully communicating with retailers and consumers regarding federally regulated organic production practices," Steve Harold of OTA member Caito Foods said on behalf of OTA interim director David Gagnon at the meeting. "It also would prevent Indiana consumers from exercising full and free choice in determining which products they wish to purchase."
Additionally, the Greenfield, Mass.-based trade group submitted a letter to acting Indiana agricultural director Ken Klemme, as well as a white paper on dairy labeling to the task force. In the letter Gagnon noted that organic agriculture is regulated nationally under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program overseeing the certifiers of organic farms and handlers and labeling statements made under OFPA.
"By definition, organic farmers never have used synthetic growth hormones such as rBST or rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone)," wrote Gagnon. "The statement about non-use of synthetic growth hormones organic farmers and their dairies make on their dairy product labels is an organic process claim authorized under OFPA."
Monsanto said recently it would sell its POSILAC recombinant growth hormone to Elanco, a division of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. OTA has filed suit to challenge Ohio's emergency dairy labeling regulation that the trade group believes excessively limits organic dairy manufacturers' ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to consumers on dairy product labels.