Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Office

225 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Rendell,

We, the undersigned consumers, dairy farmers, farm and agricultural organizations, public health, animal protection and environmental groups, food processors and retailers are writing to protest the recent Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) action which would prohibit farmers from telling consumers that they aren’t using artificial hormones on their dairy cows.  In late October, PDA informed 16 dairies that they cannot use certain labels on milk as of January 1, 2008, including “Our farmers’ pledge:  no artificial growth hormones,” “From cows not treated with the growth hormone rBST,” and “free of artificial growth hormones.”

We are opposed to this action for the following reasons:

 * This PDA action interferes with consumers right-to-know about the foods they eat.  Many consumers prefer to buy milk produced by cows not treated with artificial hormones, as evidenced by the success in stores across the country of such milk.  Consumers have a basic right to choose about the characteristics of the food they buy.

* This PDA action represents a serious infringement on the free speech rights of farmers who want to inform the public about their agricultural practices.  The PDA claims that these labels can be misleading because they cannot be verified by a test.  However, many label claims, including “locally grown” or “Pennsylvania grown” also cannot be verified by a test, and the PDA does not object to them.

* In 1994, after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH), the FDA also said that the following label statement, in proper context, is acceptable:  “from cows not treated with rbST.”  Earlier this year, Monsanto asked FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to declare these labels to be misleading.  In late August, the FTC wrote to Monsanto, “The FTC staff agrees with FDA that food companies may inform consumers in advertising, as in labeling, that they do not use rBST.”[1]    Thus, the PDA’s action contradicts long established federal policy on this matter.

* The use of rbGH remains controversial and was not approved in Canada, Japan, and the European Union because of negative effects of rbGH use on animal health.  Codex Alimentarius, the United Nations main food safety body, twice decided that it could not endorse the safety of rbGH for human health.

* This new policy on the part of PDA was issued with limited opportunity for comment or input from consumers, dairy farmers, processors or the general public.  This is a violation of basic democratic process.

We urge the state of Pennsylvania to rescind this poorly conceived policy which interferes with the rights of farmers, dairies and consumers and constitutes inappropriate government interference in the marketplace.

Milk processors that have signed this letter simply want to be able to respond with truthful labeling to these concerns expressed by consumers and their corresponding desire to buy milk that is from cows not treated with rbGH.


Scott Roy, President

Boulder Ice Cream

Rodney Martin

Bridge View Dairy, Oxford, PA

Craig Winters, President

The Campaign

Carl Colteryahn III

Carl Colteryahn Dairy, Pittsburgh, PA

Charles Margulis

Center for Environmental Health

Kevin Golden, Staff Attorney

Center for Food Safety

John Stauber, Executive Director

Center for Media and Democracy

Christopher Waldrop, Director

Food Policy Institute Consumer Federation of America

Mark A. Kastel

Cornucopia Institute

Melissa Hughes, General Counsel

CROPP Co-op/Organic Valley

Dean Sparks, CEO

Empire Organic Greene, NY

Dan Silver, Executive Director

Endangered Habitats League Los Angeles

John Peck, Executive Director

Family Farm Defenders

Gene Baur

Farm Sanctuary

Bill Wenzel, National Director

Farmer-to-farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering

Marty Mesh, Executive Director

Florida Organic Growers and Consumers

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director

Food and Water Watch

Beth Weaver-Kreider

Goldfinch Farm CSA, York, PA

Jacqueline Ostfield, Food and Drug Safety Officer

Government Accountability Project

Carrie Hahn

Hahn Natural Foods, Pittsburgh, PA

Jamie Harvie, Health Food Workgroup Coordinator

Health Care Without Harm

Erica Liss

Humane Farming Association

Miyun Park, Vice-President

Farm Animal Welfare, Humane Society of the United States

Nicole G. Paquette, Interim CEO

Animal Protection Institute

Bridget Holcomb

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Sylvia Zimmerman, President Board of Directors

Innovative Farmers of Ohio

David Wallinga, Director Food and Health Program

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director

Institute for Responsible Technology

John Knutson

J&B Dairy, Modesto, CA

Frederick Kirschenmann, President

Kirschenmann Family Farms, Medina, North Dakota

Debbie Palmer

Live Earth Farm, California

William Acquaviva

Livewater Farm, Westminster West, VT

Shirley Ayers

Martindale’s Natural Market, Springfield, PA

Kim Seeley, Milky Way Farms, Troy, PA

Josh Bryceson-CSA Farm Manager

Minnesota Food Association

Joel Gill, President

Mississippi Livestock Markets Association

Heidi Lindroth

Moonglow Farms, Davis, IL

Katherine Ozer, Executive Director

National Family Farm Coalition

Sarah Gallo, Government Relations Representative

National Farmers Union

Sarah Janssen, Science Fellow

Natural Resources Defense Council

Ed Maltby, Executive Director

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance

Steve Gilman, Policy Coordinator

Northeast Organic Farming Association representing 7 states (NOFA-VT, NOFA-NH, NOFA-MASS, NOFA-CT, NOFA-NY, NOFA-NJ and NOFA-RI)

Babette Pareira

Oak Valley Dairy, Merced, CA

Liz Rog

Oneota Community Co-op, Decorah, IA

Preston Yoder

Ore Bank Farm, Belleville, PA

Tom Gleason, President

Oregon Ice Cream Company

Rick North, Project Director

Campaign for Safe Food, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director

Organic Consumers Association

 Mark Lipson, Policy Program Director

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Caren Wilcox, Executive Director and CEO

Organic Trade Association

David Masur


James Browning, Director


Francis Thicke

Radiance Dairy, Fairfield, IA

Timothy LaSalle, CEO

Rodale Institute

Ted Schettler, Science Director

Science and Environmental Health Network

Laurel Hopwood, Chair

Genetic Engineering Committee, Sierra Club

Gary Hirschberg, President and CEO

Stonyfield Farm, Inc.

Henry Tiffany

Tiffany Hill Farm, Weare, NH

Chuck Turner, Jr.

Turner Dairy Farms, Penn Hills, PA

Michael Prete, General Manager

Trader’s Point Creamery, Indiana

Margaret Mellon, Director

Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Phil Bereano

Washington Biotechnology Action Council

Jill Davies

Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Victor, MT

Chuck Deichmann

Willow Creek Farm, Belmont, NY

George Wright

Wright Way Dairy, Hermon, NY

[1]   Letter from Mary Engle, Associate Director, FTC to Jodie Bernstein and Dana Rosenfeld (Monsanto’s lawyers), dated August 21, 2007