This article analyzes ongoing controversy over how to best label rBST-free milk. Recombinant bovine somatotropin is a genetically engineered drug administered by some farmers to their dairy herds to increase milk production. FDA first approved its use in 1994, despite great controversy. The FDA also issued labeling guidelines that allowed voluntary disclosure of rBST-free milk, so long as it carried the disclaimer that no difference could be detected between milk produced with rBST and rBST-free. The controversy continues today as consumers express a preference for rBST-free milk and many rBST-free producers label their milk this way. "Conventional" milk (with rBST) is viewed by the FDA as materially the same as rBST-free. So, conventional producers have continually challenged marketing that is meant to convey rBST free milk is superior or more nutritious. This article specifically analyzes the recent activities surrounding rBST - an FTC petition, an FDA petition to withdraw rBST approval, and several states' rulemaking and legislation to tighten rBST-free labeling. One of the state's rules has also spawned federal litigation. The article recommends that stakeholders must generate consumer survey data to understand the effect of rBST labels on consumers, and then use that data to design better milk labels.

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Journal Title

Drake Journal of Agricultural Law

Document Type



Reprinted from the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law. Copyright is retained by Drake University.

Additional Information

Abstract available from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1192422