HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is stopping dairies from stamping milk containers with hormone-free labels in a precedent-setting decision being closely watched by the industry.
Synthetic hormones have been used to improve milk production in cows for more than a decade. The chemical has not been detected in milk, so there is no way to test for its use, but a growing number of retailers have been selling and promoting hormone-free products in response to consumer demand.
State Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said advertising one brand of milk as free from artificial hormones implies that competitors' milk is not safe, and it often comes with what he said is an unjustified higher price.
"It's kind of like a nuclear arms race," Wolff said. "One dairy does it and the next tries to outdo them. It's absolutely crazy."
I think I am well within my rights to declare Mr. Wolff's office a "Microeconomics Free Zone." I wouldn't use the word "crazy" to describe producers' desire to compete with each other to offer the consumers a product they might like better. Whether the hormone has been shown to affect the milk is irrelevant here. If the statement is true about the production process, the producers should be allowed to label their product as such.