Food & Water Watch Launches National Coalition to Promote Artificial Hormone-Free Milk in Schools

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Sarah Alexander or Erin Greenfield (202) 683-2500

Food & Water Watch Launches National Coalition to Promote Artificial Hormone-Free Milk in Schools

Consumer Group Celebrates “Know Your Milk” Day for School Milk Campaign with Events Nationwide

WASHINGTON - Today, in honor of “Know Your Milk” Day, Food & Water Watch – a national consumer advocacy organization – kicked off its nationwide School Milk Campaign by announcing a coalition of over 100 organizations that are working to secure healthy milk for schoolchildren participating in the National School Lunch Program. Food & Water Watch is gearing up for this year’s re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act that is designed to help meet the nutritional needs of children through the National School Lunch Program and other feeding programs. The organization is working with parents, consumers, farmers, health professionals and teachers to ensure that schools have the option to purchase organic milk or milk not treated with the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) – a genetically engineered hormone that has been linked to cancer.

“Our schools should not be a dumping ground for milk that American consumers are increasingly avoiding,” stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “We need to make sure our nation’s schoolchildren never go hungry and that they have the safest food possible to meet their nutritional needs.”

The controversy over the use of the artificial growth hormone rBGH – recombinant bovine growth hormone – stems from the potential threats to human health. Approved in 1994 by the Food and Drug Administration, rBGH is injected into cows to make them produce more milk. Besides the documented increase of infections in dairy cows injected with rBGH, which necessitates increased use of antibiotics, there are ongoing questions about links to cancer in humans. Based on the number of dairies that use rBGH in the United States, it is possible that at least 84 million gallons of milk from rBGH-treated cows were distributed through the school nutrition programs in fiscal year 2005-2006.

“Our children’s health should not be put at risk by their being made to consume rBGH milk at school,” said Ann Cooper, a chef and school food advocate with Lunch Lessons LLC Food Family Farming Foundation – one of the organizations in the School Milk Campaign’s national coalition.  “Legislation must be put into effect that eliminates artificial hormones and antibiotics from all milk served in school cafeterias all across the country - our children’s health depends upon this.”

As part of “Know Your Milk” Day, thousands of people across the country are flooding their Congress members’ phone lines, asking them to include language in the Child Nutrition Act stating that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and other federal feeding programs can purchase milk that is free of artificial hormones. From San Francisco and Chicago, to Philadelphia and New York, activists dressed in cow costumes at local coffee houses are inviting the public to eat cookies and drink artificial hormone-free milk while calling members of Congress.

Some school districts, including the San Francisco Unified School District and the River Valley School District in Wisconsin, have already passed school board resolutions to source only rBGH-free milk in their schools due to parents’ demands. Food & Water Watch anticipates other school districts will follow these examples, especially once language is included in the Child Nutrition Act that clarifies schools have the option to request milk from cows not treated with rBGH.

“This is a no-cost administrative change that would help schools make choices that respond to the needs of their students, parents and communities,” concluded Hauter. “The most vulnerable members of our society, our children, deserve to have food that does not cause them harm.”

Click here to view the School Milk Campaign national coalition letter.

For more information on Food & Water Watch’s School Milk Campaign, please visit http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/school-milk.

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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