Wisconsin Legislature Passes Temporary Ban on Growth Hormone
Mar. 23, 1990
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ The Wisconsin Senate on Thursday approved a temporary ban on a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production, ignoring arguments that the ban would jeopardize the state's standing as the nation's dairy leader.
The Senate voted 21-12 in favor of the legislation, which forbids farmers from using bovine growth hormone until July 1, 1991, or six months after it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever comes later.
The vote was a setback to four major chemical and drug companies that are developing the drug: Monsanto, American Cyanamid, Eli Lilly and Upjohn.
The bill, which was amended and passed by the Assembly on Wednesday, would allow use of the synthetic hormone for research. It now advances to Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's desk.
''This has been a long, hard battle,'' said Sen. Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Middleton who sponsored the bill. ''We won. We are sending a loud and clear message to the governor that we don't want unlabled BGH out there.''
If Thompson signs the measure, Wisconsin would become the first state to enact a ban on the hormone, Feingold said. Wisconsin is by far the nation's leading milk producer.
Sen. Timothy Weeden, a Republican, staged a two-hour filibuster to block passage of the ban, saying it could someday change the state license plate motto of ''America's Dairyland'' to read: ''Wisconsin, the nation's former dairyland.'' Weeden later abandoned his effort.
Jeffrey Remsik, a lobbyist for the Animal Health Institute, an industry group, said the Senate vote was a ''real victory for food terrorists who scare people and the Legislature into thinking there is something wrong with biotechnology.''
Remsik said the four companies producing the hormone may sue the state.
''It is highly likely we will file suit as a violation of the interstate commerce law,'' Remsik said.
Thompson said after the Senate adjourned that ''I am not ready to say what I am going to veto or sign.''
Moratorium supporters say the ban would allow for more research on the product before milk containing the hormone is sold to consumers.
Critics of the ban say the hormone is safe and banning it will put Wisconsin dairy farmers at a competitive disadvantage.