NEW PROGRAM WOULD CERTIFY THAT MILK IS FREE OF HORMONE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Scientific Certification Systems here is introducing a new program that will certify milk has not been derived from cows treated with synthetic growth hormone bovine somatotropin.SCS, which launched the NutriClean program several years ago to certify pesticide levels on produce are in an acceptable range, said it is developing the new program for dairy products in response to consumer

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Scientific Certification Systems here is introducing a new program that will certify milk has not been derived from cows treated with synthetic growth hormone bovine somatotropin.

SCS, which launched the NutriClean program several years ago to certify pesticide levels on produce are in an acceptable range, said it is developing the new program for dairy products in response to consumer and industry concerns."We developed the program after getting a lot of inquiries for certification in this area," said Linda Brown, vice president of communications.

"There has been interest on the retailer side and on the dairy operator side," she said. However, she stressed it is not an effort to say that "BST is bad."

"It is simply a recognition that there is a demand for product that has not been treated. We are not deciding whether it is a good product or a bad product." It is just an attempt to offer some assurance to consumers that claims have been verified, said Brown.

Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration gave Monsanto Co., St. Louis, approval to sell rBST or recombinant bovine somatotropin, which it markets under the trade name Posilac, to dairy farmers as a way to increase milk production in cows.

Since then, controversy has erupted over the possible long-term effects on humans of using rBST and the use of biotechnology for food production in general.

To ascertain whether milk has been derived from treated animals, SCS plans to gather information through dairy farmer and veterinarian records, site visits and analytical testing.

So far, there are no retailers or dairy companies using the program, said Brown.