Give rBGH the Boot from our Nation's Schools

rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) is a genetically engineered variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Formerly manufactured by Monsanto, it is sold to dairy farmers under the trade name Posilac. Injection of this hormone forces cows to boost milk production by about 10%, while increasing the incidences of mastitis, lameness, and reproductive complications.

The federal nutrition programs are a major provider of milk to our nation’s school-age children. According to the National Milk Producers Federation, nearly 430 million gallons of milk were distributed through the National School Breakfast, Lunch, and Special Milk programs during the 2005-2006 school year. Unfortunately, a significant amount of this milk may have been produced with artificial growth hormones.

Take action today and tell Congress to mandate that schools purchase artificial hormone-free milk and organic milk.

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Dannon will drop rBGH

Dannon (or Danone), the French-based multinational that owns Activa and the popular organic brand Stonyfield Farm, has announced it is committed to eliminating rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) by the end of 2009. This controversial genetically engineered growth hormone was originally developed by Monsanto and is injected into cows to force them to produce more milk. Dannon joins a host of other companies, like Starbucks and Yoplait, that have also recently responded to your emails and pressure by removing rBGH from their products.

We and our allies are making progress driving rBGH off the market and educating the public about the health and environmental hazards of genetically engineered foods, and the benefits of organics. Unfortunately, hazardous rBGH-tainted dairy products are still force-fed to our children and low-income consumers as part of the national school lunch program and federal nutrition programs such as Food Stamps and the WIC program. But you can change that. Tell Congress to mandate that school lunch and other taxpayer-funded federal nutrition programs purchase only rBGH-free milk and instead supply our children and low-income communities with certified "USDA Organic" milk.

Learn more and take action

For more information on the rBGH and the role of healthcare see http://www.noharm.org/us/food/resources#rbgh


Yoplait Eliminates rBGH Milk from Products

Hospitals and Healthcare Leaders Shift Dairy Market

Yoplait has announced to its hospital customers that it will stop using milk from cattle injected with the growth hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to make its yogurt products, beginning in early August 2009. Yoplait is among the first major manufactures to totally eliminate rBGH from their product line, a move widely seen as a response to demands by the health care sector and consumer groups to provide rBGH-free products.

The health care system purchases approximately $12 billion worth of food and beverages annually. In their drive to serve safer, more sustainable foods, major health systems across the country are switching to rBGH-free (also called rBST) milk and milk products, due to the evidence showing the hormone’s adverse effects on animals and potential to harm human health. The use of rBGH in banned in Canada, the European Union, Australia and Japan.

“This speaks to the collective buying power of hospitals to shift the marketplace,” said Jamie Harvie, Health Care Without Harm Food Coordinator. “Now we need Dannon and other milk and milk product producers to show the same leadership.”

“This is great news for the health of consumers, communities and the planet,” stated Pat Burdullis, R.D Administrator, Non Clinical Contracts, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) Supply Chain Management, one of the many hospitals across the country that have initiated steps to eliminate their use of dairy produced with rBGH. “To date we are approximately 90 percent rBGH-free in our liquid dairy.” CHW is the largest Catholic health system in the United States and was among many healthcare organizations that sent letters to their suppliers requesting products produced without rBGH.

Upon receiving the news, Diane Imrie, Director of Nutrition Services, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vermont, stated, “This is a major act by Yoplait, one which we have asked for and totally support. It is a large step that will help hospitals reach their goal to provide safe, healthy foods to their patients, staff and visitors. I hope that other major brands, like Dannon, will follow their lead.”

The American Nurses Association also supports the development of national and state laws, regulations and policies that specifically reduce the use of rBGH or rBST in milk and dairy production in the United States and has called on nurses and hospitals to purchase dairy produced without rBGH. In 2008 HCWH nurses work group developed a rBGH free toolkit and initiated a letter writing campaign demanding that Yoplait and Dannon change their practice.

HCWH is an international coalition of more than 430 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on the rBGH and the role of healthcare see http://www.noharm.org/us/food/resources#rbgh. To learn more about HCWH’s work on food and other issues related to health care and the environment, visit www.noharm.org/.

HCWH has an ambitious healthy food agenda, which includes buying fresh food locally and/or buying certified organic food; avoiding food raised with growth hormones and antibiotics; encouraging group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to support healthy food in healthcare; supporting local farmers and farming organizations; introducing farmers markets and on-site food box programs; reducing food waste; and establishing an overarching food policy at each health facility. More than 200 hospitals have signed the HCWH “Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge.” Signers pledge to work toward developing sustainable food systems in their facilities.

In 2008, Catholic Healthcare West sent a letter to Health Care Without Harm discussing their Sustainable Food Vision and other food-related positions. View the letter at http://www.noharm.org/details.cfm?ID=2134&type=document.

Heath Care without Harm, an international coalition of more than 473 organizations in 52 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on the healthy food pledge see http://www.noharm.org/us/food/pledge. To learn more about HCWH’s work on food and other issues related to health care www.healthyfoodinhealthcare.org.



Expel Hormones from School Milk

The food kids eat today will have a lasting impact on their health in the future. Unfortunately much of the food kids eat today is produced with harmful chemicals and artificial hormones. We've got a great opportunity to affect what kind of milk is in the National School Lunch Program. Can you take action now to get better milk into school lunches?

This spring we have a great chance to bring milk free from artificial hormones into our schools as Congress takes up legislation on the National School Lunch Program.

We are asking Congress to clarify that schools do have the option to purchase milk from cows that are not treated with artificial growth hormones. With nearly 430 million gallons of milk distributed through national school milk programs, we have to take action now to get artificial hormones out of our school milk!

Can you sign our petition to ask Congress to clarify that schools can purchase artificial hormone-free milk and organic milk?

Food & Water Watch is on the ground all across the country launching our School Milk Campaign, and this petition is the first step. Through town hall meetings, school board and city council bans, and other grassroots organizing, we can improve the health of America's schoolchildren by eliminating artificial hormones from school milk programs.

Take the first step in expelling the hormones from school milk by signing our petition and joining our action team.

Thanks for taking action,

Sarah, Noelle, Alex and The Food Team
Food & Water Watch

P.S. Watch for alerts coming soon to find out how you can be involved in our National Day of Action on March 11, 2009!