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FTC Denies Request To Investigate rbST Claims

Sep 04, 2007

FTC Denies Requests To Investigate rbST Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on August 21 denied a request by Monsanto and various dairy producers to investigate allegedly misleading advertising and labeling claims regarding milk and recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST). Monsanto had petitioned FTC on February 27, 2007, claiming that dairy processors were charging a premium for milk and other dairy products from cows not treated with rbST based on misleading advertising and labeling claims that such milk and dairy products are healthier or safer for consumers than dairy products from cows treated with rbST.

As stated in the letter from Mary Engle, associate director of FTC's Division of Advertising Practices, the FTC "did not find any examples of national or significant regional advertising campaigns that made express or implied claims linking rbST to human health or safety."

The FTC did find that some small, locally operated businesses were making unfounded health or safety claims, but that given "the limited nature and scope of advertising making rbST-related health and safety claims and the willingness of the companies contacted by staff to make modifications to their advertising, we have determined that formal investigation and enforcement action is not warranted at this time."

This FTC result echoed an earlier communication by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Monsanto. In that June 27 letter, FDA Chief Counsel Sheldon Bradshaw stated that the FDA would continue to issue warning letters when milk labeling regarding rbST is false or misleading. However, in response to Monsanto's specific request that the 1994 FDA Guidance on rbST labeling be revised, Bradshaw stated that, "in light of FDA's many responsibilities, we do not intend, at present, to invest the substantial amount of time necessary to revise the guidance."

IDFA believes that this was the appropriate result, and had submitted a letter to Sheldon Bradshaw opposing Monsanto's request. Click here to view the FTC letter, FDA letter and IDFA letter.



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Posted September 4, 2007


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