Dairies dump use of GM hormone BST

In the past few months, The Organic & Non-GMO Report has reported on dairy companies in Oregon and Washington that are eliminating the use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH or BST. The trend is spreading nationwide, with dairies in the eastern US following suit.

By Bruce Edwards
Introduced 12 years ago as a way to boost milk production, BST is being put out to pasture in New England by the region’s largest milk processors and dairy cooperatives.

BST, the controversial synthetic hormone, is being forced from the New England marketplace for several reasons, dairy experts say. Those reasons include demand by consumers for synthetic-free milk and other foods; the success of dairies like Booth Brothers in Barre (Vermont) that has marketed its milk as BST-free; and the jump in sales of organic dairy products.

Helping to drive the effort toward BST-free milk is Dean Foods, the country’s largest milk processor.

Dean Foods notified its milk suppliers last month that as of Sept. 1, it would accept only BST-free milk for its plants in Franklin and West Lynn, Mass., and East Greenbush, N.Y., according to the Aug. 23 edition of Weekly Market Bulletin, published by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

The newsletter also said that a number of other dairies had made a similar move, including Byrne Dairy in Syracuse, N.Y.

H.P. Hood already operates BST-free milk plants in Barre, Concord, N.H., and Portland, Maine. Weekly Market Bulletin said that Hood also plans on switching its Agawam, Mass., plant to handle only BST-free milk.

Agri-Mark, New England’s largest milk cooperative with 1,500 farm members, including 350 in Vermont, is considering its options in a region where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to process and sell milk treated with BST.

“Let’s say the farmer wants to use the product (BST) and his milk has to go to a different plant, then there is a cost involved with that,” Agri-Mark spokesman Doug DiMento said; “It’s safe to say we’re exploring the market right now to see what the costs are and what type of premiums people (farmers) are willing to pay.”

(Source: Rutland Herald (Vermont))

© Copyright October 2006, The Organic & Non-GMO Report