Sebelius vetoes milk-labeling bill

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have required a disclaimer statement on dairy products made without artificial growth hormones.

Sebelius said the bill would have made it more difficult for consumers to get clear information.

“Supporters of the bill claim it’s necessary to protect consumers from false or misleading information. Yet there has been overwhelming opposition by consumer groups, small dairy producers and retailers to this proposed legislation,” she said.

Under the measure, producers who stated their product is not from cows supplemented with the artificial growth hormone rBST would have had to document the claim and put on the product label a disclaimer.

The disclaimer would have said: “The Food and Drug Administration has determined there are no significant differences between milk from cows that receive injections of the artificial hormone and milk from those that do not.”

Large dairy producers argued it was misleading to brag about being hormone-free because there is no evidence linking the artificial hormones given to cows with any problems in milk or other dairy products.

But opponents said some people want to know whether hormones are used because they believe it could either adversely affect the quality of the milk or the health of the cow. State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was a vocal opponent of the bill.

Some opponents also said they feared companies would have pulled their products from Kansas stores rather than have to comply with different labeling requirements.

The vetoed bill also contained provisions dealing with pesticides, fertilizers and dairy fees that Sebelius said she supported. She urged the Legislature to put those provisions in a separate bill when it meets for the wrap-up session April 29.