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Today, the Sixth Court of Appeals handed down a ruling regarding Ohio's rbST labeling rule. The ruling was not exactly an all out win for either side.
Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) (corporate friendly) had decided to create a rule which would virtually eliminate any labeling of rbST issues on milk. Ohio claimed consumers were misled.
The Appellate Court sent the case back to the lower court with explicit instructions.
Here is some of the opinion:
The ODA then issued a proposed Rule restricting the types of claims that dairy processors could make about milk and milk products. To gauge public support for these labeling restrictions, the ODA solicited comments about the proposed Rule and held two public hearings. Less than 70 of the 2,700 emails and letters sent to the ODA during this time period were in favor of the proposed Rule, according to estimates made by the Processors. (page 5)
The district court held that the composition claims were inherently misleading
because “they imply a compositional difference between those products that are
produced with rb[ST] and those that are not,” in contravention of the FDA’s finding that there is no measurable compositional difference between the two. This conclusion is elied by the record, however, which shows that, contrary to the district court’s assertion, a compositional difference does exist between milk from untreated cows and conventional milk (“conventional milk,” as used throughout this opinion, refers to milk from cows treated with rbST). (page 9)
Also unhelpful are the consumer comments that the ODA received after issuing
the proposed Rule. The State received approximately 2,700 comments, of which the Processors estimate that only 70 were in support of the Rule. We agree with the State that some of these comments demonstrate consumer confusion regarding the use of rbST in milk production. One commenter, for example, asserted that she needed “to know that the milk I drink has no added hormones,” thereby indicating that she believed rbST to be present in conventional milk. But few if any of these commenters indicated that their
confusion stemmed from the product labels. The commenter quoted above, for instance, was informed about rbST and milk production from conversations with her oncologist,not from reading the labels. Although there is not a “complete absence of deception” as there was in Ibanez, the proof falls far short of establishing that Ohio consumers have been misled by dairy-product labeling. (Page 13)
we conclude that the Rule’s prophylactic ban of composition claims such as “rbST free” is more extensive than necessary to serve the State’s interest
in preventing consumer deception. (page 14)
No one can make a macroeconomic case of rbST benefiting the dairy farmers. Logically, rbST has probably hurt the dairy industry.
This whole pro-corporate defense of rbST was started by Dennis Wolff when he Secretary of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. http://www.politicalfriendster.com/showPerson.php?id=6096&name=Dennis-C-Wolff The Govenor would have nothing to do with it. So, the corporate strategy moved to Ohio, where they found a friend.