Consumer Groups Protest Starbucks Decision Not to Serve Milk From Growth-Hormone Supplemented Cows

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WASHINGTON, March 20 /PRNewswire/ The American Council on Science and Health, Center for Global Food Issues, Citizens for the Integrity of Science, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Alert, and National Center for Public Policy Research sent the following letter to Mr. Orin Smith, President and CEO of Starbucks Corporation today, signed by Steven J. Milloy, Citizens for the Integrity of Science; Elizabeth M. Whelan, American Council on Science and Health; Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues; Gregory Conko, Competitive Enterprise Institute; Fran Smith, Consumer Alert; John Carlisle, National Center for Public Policy Analysis; with copies sent to Dennis Stefanacci, Senior Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility; and Howard Schultz, Chairman of the Board. Also included with the letter is a statement of C. Everett Koop on the Introduction of Supplemental BST:

We are writing to express concern about your recent announcement that Starbucks' would begin to serve milk products only from cows not treated with bovine growth hormone. Your action is unfounded, and harms consumers and the environment.

In 1994, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop called upon food retailers to act responsibly in the face of extreme fringe group attacks on the safety of milk from cows supplemented with protein-based growth hormones.

Dr. Koop noted responsible companies could "play an important role by assuring consumers of the safety of the milk supply, by providing the facts on bovine growth hormone to interested customers, or by referring them to credible health and nutrition authorities." Dr. Koop added, "It is necessary to condemn these attacks on the safety of milk for what they are: baseless, manipulative and completely irresponsible." A copy of Dr. Koop's statement is attached.

Starbucks should step up to the plate as a responsible corporate citizen and meet Dr. Koop's challenge. Consumers deserve choice and accurate information.

Starbucks' recently responded to the extreme activists' pressure by noting that you "hope to be able to offer all of our milk products rBST-free." This suggests you may not continue to offer the same safe and affordable conventionally produced milk that you have always provided. We hope this is not true.

Please let us know if it is your intention to provide only certified organic dairy products, or if you intend to provide both certified organic alternatives, and the safe and more affordable conventional milk that you currently provide.

Please do not contribute to the vast misinformation campaigns being spread by the extreme activists. Milk from cows supplemented with protein-based growth hormones, which naturally occur in all cows, is the same safe, nutritious milk. In addition, dairy producers who use these supplements are maintaining their economic viability, helping maintain stable, affordable milk for consumers and protecting the environment.

Unfortunately, increasing your purchase of organic milk will increase, not decrease environmental burdens.

Dairy producers who use these supplements produce as much as 15 percent more milk with the same number of cows. That translates to using less water, land and fuel. These producers help reduce waste streams and soil loss. They do this while maintaining their economic viability and supporting stable, affordable milk prices for consumers.

In the U.S. alone, use of these supplements could reduce water irrigation by 700,000 gallons, save 1.7 million acres of land used for feed and grain, save 240,000 gallons of fuel, reduce nearly one million metric tons of manure and reduce 5.3 million tons of soil loss per year.

Your responsible support for this safe product helps protect consumers, the environment and family farmers.

Thank you for your consideration and prompt response.