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The Milk-Free Zone: Federal and Local Interests in Regulating Recombinant bST

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Document pages: 91 pages

Abstract: Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is a genetically engineered version of a bovine growth hormone, which can be administered to dairy herds to stimulate milk production. The use of rBST has been contentious, due to fears that administration of the recombinant product might adversely affect food safety. Because there is little or no scientific evidence indicating that rBST is use is harmful to humans or to cows, the Food and Drug Administration has approved its use. Critics nonetheless contend that consumers have a “right to know” if rBST was used in milk production, and some state legislatures have considered mandatory labeling statutes. This article explores the federalism issues related to such statutes, including preemption, equal protection, and dormant commerce problems. Because of such constitutional impediments, and because the market appears to provide sufficient incentives for voluntary labeling, the article concludes that mandatory labeling is neither desirable nor feasible.

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