Monday, 7 December 2009

Food, Inc.

I watched the documentary Food, Inc. last night. I thought it was really excellent, managing to pull together a number of important issues including Monsanto's patents on plant species, intimidation practices, domination of the food market by only four companies, the centrality of corn in the food industry and its role in the prevalence of dangerous e coli, ridiculous libel laws, impotence of the USDA, corn subsidies, treatment of animals and meat packing plant conditions. I highly recommend it.

It brought to mind another issue that wasn't directly addressed in the movie but is connected to those issues, namely, the use of artificial bovine growth hormone, rBGH, to increase milk production in dairy cows. In some places, presumably under pressure from scummy corporations like Monsanto, states are considering or have passed legislation to ban the practice of labeling milk that is not taken from cows that have been given artificial growth hormone to increase milk production. In other words, they don't want consumers to be able to know whether or not their milk has come from rBGH treated cows. Europe, Canada, Japan and New Zealand ban the use of rBGH, but in the US not only is it legal but they're seeking to prevent us from knowing on which milk it has been used. The argument is that milk from cows so treated is indistinguishable from milk from cows that didn't receive it. Setting aside the fact that claims that rBGH milk has no ill effect on human health are probably just untrue, what galls me about this is the fact that it displays absolutely no concern for the animals. I refuse to drink rBGH milk not, primarily, because I'm worried about its effects on my health, but because of my concern about effects on the cow, i.e., increased mastitis and lameness and decreased fertility.

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