This past week a federal judge repealed the Ohio law banning “rbST free” and “rbGH free” milk labels. The court further ruled that milk from cows treated with hormones is constitutionally different from hormone-free milk, overturning the FDA’s finding that there is “no significant difference” between the two. The 17-year-old study was much-touted by those in the dairy industry who use artificial hormones to increase their production.
The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit cited the following three differences in milk from cows treated with rbST and rbGH:
- Higher counts of somatic cells, which means there’s more pus in the milk
- A period of milk with lower nutritional quality during each lactation
- Increased levels of the hormone IGF-1, which is an insulin-like growth factor
The ruling ended two years of litigation. The International Dairy Foods Association filed its claim against the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2008, and the Organic Trade Association later joined in the effort to repeal the ban.
The FDA does not require milk from cows treated with hormones to be labeled at this time, but has no problem with voluntary labeling of hormone-free milk.