After years of legal wrangling over the proper labeling of milk from cows treated with its artificial hormone, Monsanto wants to sell its milk business—specifically, POSILAC, the bovine growth hormone given to cows to boost their production of milk.
In recent years, Monsanto had been suing milk producers who explicitly labeled their product as hormone free, arguing that was false advertising since all milk has natural hormones in it. And recent studies had argued that recombinant bovine growth hormone delivered global warming benefits: its boosting of milk production could decrease the number of cows needed to produce the same amount of milk.
But now the agricultural giant wants to give up the milk fight to concentrate on its core genetically modified seed business, which has also not been without controversy.
Consumers have made it fairly clear they don’t want milk from cows treated with the artificial hormone. At one point, more than 22 percent of U.S. cows were on the hormone. As of 2007, only 17 percent still were, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In recent years, major companies including Kraft Foods, Starbucks and Wal-Mart have announced decisions to sell only milk products from untreated cows. This "will limit our future sales" admitted Monsanto.
Consumer health advocates rejoiced because of links to various health effects, including the birth of more twins. "Monsanto has recognized that consumers have made a choice to avoid milk made with genetically engineered growth hormones," said Andrew Kimbrell, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety in a statement. "They have clearly judged the time right to get out of the failing artificial growth hormone business."