This past Thursday was a very thrilling day here at Stonyfield. A big ruling was delivered in a case that is closely tied to our mission and deeply meaningful for our consumers. We’re thrilled with the outcome and what it means for us all. Let me explain…
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Stonyfield, the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Organic Valley, and Horizon Organic in a landmark case that would have prevented consumers in Ohio from knowing whether products on grocery store shelves were produced without synthetic growth hormones (rbST or rBGH). There are many reasons the win is exciting, but here are our Top Four:
1. The ruling protects consumers right to know what’s in their food. We believe you have a right to know how your food was produced and that we have a right to tell you. The court agreed! (So do you – 88% believe that “milk from cows raised without synthetic bovine growth hormones should be allowed to be labeled as such” according to a nationwide poll of 1,000 people conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.) The new ruling preserves the right to use claims such as “rbST-free” and to allow consumers to obtain accurate information when making purchasing decisions.
2. We can continue to proudly share our mission on our packaging. All of our products are rbST free and we take great pride in that fact. Our consumers should too, and that is why it means a great deal that we retained the right to proudly communicate that our yogurt, milk, and ice cream are made without synthetic growth hormones on labels in Ohio and all across the nation. (Synthetic growth hormones boost milk production by 10-25% and can negatively affect cow health, family farm survival, and even – as this ruling supports – human health too.)
3. The court’s decision underscores the importance of the USDA organic seal. Organic dairy farmers abide by a federally regulated system that mandates no use of growth hormones. Selecting products with the organic label is the best way for consumers to choose products free of synthetic growth hormones. These standards are put in place to protect the health of dairy cows and the humans who consume diary products. This ruling, and victory for organic, is vital to ensuring truthful information on organic product labels.
4. It marks another step forward in our journey to support consumers’ rights, cow’s health, and family farms’ survival. We have cared for a long time about the right to sell and promote products produced without rbST. In fact, we were the first dairy processor in the nation to pay farmers a premium not to treat cows with rbST. In 1993, Stonyfield secured agreements with milk suppliers not to use artificial hormones like rBGH soon after it was introduced by Monsanto and approved for use by the FDA. In 2009, we applauded Wal-Mart and General Mills for banning dairy products made with rbST. And we have continued to campaign for consumers right to choose food produced without chemicals to this day.
(Surprisingly, the US is in the minority among industrialized nations by allowing the use of synthetic growth hormones to stimulate milk production; the practice is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in the 27 countries of the European Union.)