So far, opposition from consumer and retail advocates has won out. Last month, Pennsylvania backed down and withdrew a short-lived ban on the labels. However, the state now requires certification from milk producers to support their rBGH-free claims.

Sara Kaplaniak, the mom from Harrisburg, is pleased with the reversal. “I believe that absolutely a company should be able to put on the label that the milk has been produced without anything extra in the way of hormones and additives. It matters.”

Many in the dairy industry agree that consumers have a right to know how their milk is made – and suppliers have a right to tell them. “We believe that our members have the right to include truthful and not misleading information on their labels,” says Armstrong from the IDFA. “They’re asking to at least know what they’re drinking so they can make more informed choices. But really what it comes down to is — milk is milk.”

The FDA urges – but does not require – rBST-free labels to include a disclaimer to counter the implication that the milk is safer. Ben & Jerry’s complies with this sentence: “The FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated and untreated cows.”

As more shoppers become aware of rBGH, milk producers and retailers are lining up to give them what they want.

“More and more consumers are looking for rBGH-free products,” sums up Richard North. “So this is a good marketing tool. It’s not only the right thing, it’s the smart thing for them to do.”

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