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State Won’t Order Disclosure When Dairy Hormone Used

TIMES STAFF WRITER

State agricultural officials refused Monday to require dairy farmers to disclose their use of a synthetic growth hormone in milk production, saying there was no scientific evidence that the substance is unhealthful either for cattle or humans.

Ruling against a coalition of consumer, environmental and some farmer organizations, state Agriculture Secretary Henry Voss said the group had only presented editorials and opinions to support its request that the synthetic growth hormone known as Posilac be classified in California as a restricted drug.

Voss said it would be inappropriate for him to order a change in the classification of Posilac based simply on arguments presented by the coalition that “are not supported by the scientific community.”

A change in the classification of Posilac, a growth hormone injected in cattle to increase milk production, would have required the Department of Food and Agriculture to track all sales of the drug and to make its tracking logs available to the public.

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In recent months, as the use of Posilac has become more widespread, especially in Southern California, Consumers Union has led a campaign to require more disclosure.

On Monday, Harry Snyder, the organization’s West Coast regional director, accused the agriculture department of ignoring provisions in state law requiring the tracking of any livestock drug that produces a hormone-like action. He said the law is an absolute and gives the department no latitude to decide that any particular hormone-like drug should not be restricted.

While he acknowledged that none of the evidence so far shows that milk produced by cows injected with Posilac is unsafe, Snyder said some elements of its use are still untested. He said the hormone has been shown to increase the incidence of udder infections in cows, which in turn requires more use of antibiotics. He said a greater concentration of antibiotic residues can lower the quality of milk and produce an odd taste.


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