Free-Marketers! Randians! Where are you now?

There very well may be plenty of free-marketers or libertarians or objectivists who feel that Monsanto is in the wrong here, that the market is deciding and so they should abide by its decision, but I haven't seen much indication of it. I suspect, by the way, that the more extreme would suggest that the government shouldn't be in the food-labeling business to begin with, and to them I say I already get the RDA's suggested rodent fecal matter in my food, and would just as soon leave it there.

Anyway, the article is about how Ben & Jerry's is fighting Monsanto over food labeling. Monsanto has long been in the business of shooting hormones into cows to increase their output of milk, and finds it unfair that some dairies aren't using their product, and what's more, are boasting about it. So being the free-marketers they are, they've taken their case to the people, to win their hearts and minds. Oh wait.

A newly formed farmers’ group, backed by Monsanto, is pushing for labeling changes, saying the hormone-free labels imply that the milk is safer than other milk, when they say it’s not.

“There’s no question that rBST is safe,” said Carrol Campbell, a Kansas dairy farmer who co-chairs American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, the new group. “That’s what’s so frustrating to us, that there are organizations out there that would indicate that it’s something other than safe.”
Yes, they want to force dairies to stop letting their customers know that they're not using hormones. Less information, not more, is Monsanto's motto.

But the market is deciding, isn't it? I don't buy milk from companies who use those hormones, nor do I buy milk from cows that have been treated with antibiotics. I pay a premium for it, and as a result, I consume less of it (which is anathema to the industrial food complex). And the same is rapidly becoming the case for the rest of my dairy purchases--we already eat organic butter, Amy eats organic cottage cheese, and on those rare occasions we eat ice cream, we tend toward Ben & Jerry's, in large part because of their insistence on that quality of milk. Also, because no one has ever made a better ice cream than Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey.

And to Carroll Campbell, I can only say this: you may be right that rBST is perfectly safe--I don't believe you, but you may be right. And it doesn't matter. What matters is that I want to buy milk from cows that haven't been treated with it, and you're trying to stop me from being able to do that. While we're on the subject, I'd like to know what food is GMO and what isn't, and I'd like to know if the meat I buy (rarely these days) is cloned. It's not that I'm a Luddite--I might well continue to buy said food--but I want to know. I'm tired of eating blindly, and so are enough other people that a lot of food companies are profiting by it.

The free market is rarely the best thing--and it isn't here, either, since the extreme would involve little to no government oversight at all. Forget labeling; a truly free market wouldn't have inspectors. But the general principle is sound in this limited sense--if an expanding market doesn't want your product, maybe there's a good reason for it, and instead of limiting their options, perhaps you should find ways to meet their needs.

Side note to Boar's Head--you start making organic sandwich cheeses and I may start tithing to you.

Newer Post Older Post Home