Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/15/1999 03:15 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                                                                                
HB 110 - SALE/LABELING OF MEAT/MILK PRODUCTS                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1923                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's next order of business                                                              
is HB 110, "An Act relating to the sale, offer to sell, and                                                                     
labeling of fluid milk, meat, and meat products."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1929                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS, as the bill sponsor, said he has been asked                                                              
to introduce this legislation by Alaskan dairy farmers.  The bill                                                               
does two things: 1) it institutes a pull date on milk for shelf                                                                 
life in Alaska; 2) it gives a niche market for milk produced                                                                    
without hormones in Alaska.  He commented he thinks all milk                                                                    
produced in the state is produced without the use of synthetic                                                                  
hormones, unlike a lot of milk produced outside Alaska and sold in                                                              
the state.  The bill provides a penalty if milk is labeled as                                                                   
produced without hormones but does contain them; it would be false                                                              
advertising.  He understands that there is a market for                                                                         
non-hormone-induced milk and this provides a penalty if producers,                                                              
especially Alaskan producers, label their milk falsely in this                                                                  
respect.  Representative Harris indicated Pete Fellman would                                                                    
provide the committee with more detail.  He commented Mr. Fellman                                                               
has been working with the dairy farmers and is a dairy farmer                                                                   
himself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2016                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PETE FELLMAN, Researcher for Representative John Harris, Alaska                                                                 
State Legislature, came forward to explain HB 110.  He commented                                                                
Representative Harris had said everything he had intended to say.                                                               
Mr. Fellman noted a March 15, 1999, Monsanto Company letter in the                                                              
bill packet indicates voluntary labeling of milk as                                                                             
non-hormone-induced is legal and is happening in the Lower 48.  The                                                             
letter further indicates Monsanto supports the labeling as long as                                                              
it meets the guidelines set forth.  Mr. Fellman said there is milk                                                              
labeled non-hormone-induced for sale in Alaska, in Juneau.  The                                                                 
authority to regulate this comes from the state where the milk is                                                               
produced.  He believes the milk sold in Juneau comes from                                                                       
Minnesota, therefore Minnesota sets the standard for the                                                                        
regulations and enforcement.  Alaska has no such law.  Mr. Fellman                                                              
indicated the intent is to support Alaskan agriculture which is                                                                 
small and 40 years behind the Lower 48.  The hope is to put this                                                                
legislation through as a consumer-choice bill.  Whether bST [bovine                                                             
somatotropin, also called bovine growth hormone] is harmful or not                                                              
is not the issue, the issue is the choice to not drink milk                                                                     
produced by a synthetic hormone.   Consumers currently have that                                                                
choice from milk produced outside the state; the intent is to allow                                                             
the same choice with milk produced in the state.  This will create                                                              
niche markets.  Mr. Fellman stated he personally is attempting to                                                               
build a cheese plant and would like to be able to label his cheese                                                              
non-hormone-induced.  He commented they cannot compete with Lower                                                               
48 thousand-cow dairy farms, and noted he believes about 72 percent                                                             
[of these farms] use bST to increase milk production.  By creating                                                              
markets for milk and meat producers, HB 110 will help protect                                                                   
Alaska's already substantial investment in agriculture.  Mr.                                                                    
Fellman said they are looking for ways to secure agriculture and                                                                
the state's investment.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2168                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked where Mr. Fellman's dairy farm is located.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied Delta Junction.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS asked Mr. Fellman if he has read the letter                                                               
from Monsanto and has any answers to their questions.  [The March                                                               
15, 1999, letter from Michael J. Diamond, Associate Director,                                                                   
Monsanto State Government Affairs, to Chairman Rokeberg reads:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     On behalf of Monsanto, I am pleased to provide you with                                                                    
     some additional information concerning the voluntary                                                                       
     labeling of milk, dairy and other meat products as                                                                         
     proposed by HB 110.  While Monsanto does not oppose                                                                        
     voluntary labeling, we do express our concerns over the                                                                    
     way in which labeling is addressed.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Attached, please find some information which I think you                                                                   
     will find helpful in discussing the issue of milk/dairy                                                                    
     safety.  I would, however, like to point out the                                                                           
     following points, which I believe merit serious                                                                            
     consideration:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     1. The federal Food and Drug Administration determined                                                                     
     there is no significant difference between dairy products                                                                  
     produced by cows administered with rBGH and cows not                                                                       
     administered with rBGH.  The products are essentially the                                                                  
     same, and in fact, no differentiation can be made.                                                                         
     2. In a 1997 court ruling in Illinois, Ben & Jerry's                                                                       
     Homemade Inc. was prohibited from placing a "no rBGH"                                                                      
     label on their product because it was deemed misleading                                                                    
     to consumers.                                                                                                              
     3. The FDA has reaffirmed its 1993 finding that rBGH is                                                                    
     safe for human consumption.  A letter from Health                                                                          
     Secretary Donna Shalala to House Minority Leader Gephardt                                                                  
     stated that "the lack of oral activity of rBST/rBGH and                                                                    
     insulin [-like] growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and the low level                                                                  
     and non-toxic nature of the residues of these compounds,                                                                   
     even at exaggerated doses, results in an extremely large                                                                   
     margin of safety for humans consuming dairy produced from                                                                  
     rBST-treated cows.["?]  In 1998, the Joint Food and                                                                        
     Agricultural Organization/World Health Organization                                                                        
     Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) reaffirmed the                                                                  
     safety of milk and meat from treated cows.                                                                                 
     4. Current law already permits producers to engage in                                                                      
     voluntary labeling, provided their claims are truthful                                                                     
     and not misleading, nor do they make a claim they cannot                                                                   
     support.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Additional concerns, which should be considered, include:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     1. Are the state's Agricultural Department or Health                                                                       
     agencies capable of testing milk, meat, or dairy products                                                                  
     for the presence of rBGH?  Unlikely, since the products                                                                    
     are essentially identical and BST is a naturally                                                                           
     occurring protein found in cows - hence, it would be                                                                       
     impossible to support a claim that any product is, in                                                                      
     effect, "BST-Free."                                                                                                        
     2. What kind of affidavit would be needed to guarantee                                                                     
     compliance by dairy producers?                                                                                             
     3. Finally, who is liable in a situation where a producer                                                                  
     sells a milk/dairy product from a treated cow, despite                                                                     
     claiming that his product is rBGH free?  The producer?                                                                     
     The packager?  Or the State?                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Monsanto does not oppose voluntary labeling, since it is                                                                   
     already legally permissible - however, we do maintain                                                                      
     that any voluntary labeling must follow FDA guidelines,                                                                    
     and be entirely truthful and verifiable.]                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2178                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied he received this information about an hour                                                                  
before the hearing and commented he has spoken with Mr. Diamond.                                                                
Monsanto is not against this labeling, the company is concerned the                                                             
bill itself meets the criteria.  Mr. Fellman indicated he believes                                                              
it might be possible to address this language in the Alaska                                                                     
Administrative Code if such legislation is enacted.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO referred to a letter in opposition to HB 110                                                              
in the bill packet from the National Food Processors Association                                                                
(NFPA).  He noted part of the letter says that HB 110 is                                                                        
unnecessary because voluntary disclosure is already permitted under                                                             
FDA [Food and Drug Administration] rules.  He asked if Mr. Fellman                                                              
is aware of this.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN answered in the affirmative, but his research shows                                                                 
that individual states have the right to regulate milk and milk                                                                 
labeling.  There is a federal milk quality guideline that must be                                                               
met for bacteria, pasteurization, et cetera, but the state sets                                                                 
certain limits and can set certain guidelines.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2255                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO pointed out that criminal sanctions are being                                                             
proposed when bST is a naturally-occurring hormone and it might be                                                              
in any given cow.  He asked if Mr. Fellman could address this.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied he has talked to Monsanto's veterinarians at                                                                
length and has entertained the idea himself over the years of                                                                   
injecting his cows because it is profitable.  The bST in the milk                                                               
cannot be distinguished from naturally-occurring bST, although the                                                              
levels are higher.  However, a veterinarian can examine the known                                                               
injection sites:  at the tail-head or in the shoulders.  Mr.                                                                    
Fellman indicted the cows develop a small cyst because the product                                                              
is oil-based and is slowly released into the bloodstream.  If there                                                             
was a consumer complaint, the state veterinarian could exhume that                                                              
cyst and, if all or many of a farmer's cows had these cysts, make                                                               
a reasonable determination or correlation that the cattle were                                                                  
being given bST.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2328                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated he believes the question is:  If it is                                                                 
naturally occurring, how do you differentiate and why make it                                                                   
criminal?                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN referred to information in the bill packet on the                                                                   
milk-cancer connection ["Milk and the Cancer Connection," Hans R.                                                               
Larsen, MSc ChE, International Health News, Editor/Publisher: Hans                                                              
R. Larsen].  Mr. Fellman stated there is evidence the higher levels                                                             
change some of the components in milk.  He said when that happens,                                                              
"IGF" [IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1] changes.  Mr. Fellman                                                               
indicated there may be possible connections to breast cancer.  All                                                              
they are speaking of is giving people the right to choose.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO questioned whether Alaska has a state                                                                     
veterinarian that would actually go out and enforce this.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN indicated the farms are inspected on a regular basis by                                                             
the state veterinarian.  He confirmed for Representative Halcro                                                                 
that there is an enforcement mechanism in place; the state vet                                                                  
could be called in if there would be a complaint.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2384                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked if Mr. Fellman markets his milk                                                                    
through Matanuska Maid [Matanuska Maid, Incorporated].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied they market their milk through Northern Lights                                                              
Dairy in Delta Junction; their milk goes to Fairbanks.  He                                                                      
confirmed for Representative Sanders that the labeling would be on                                                              
the carton and would be voluntary.  Mr. Fellman mentioned that a                                                                
small producer in the "Valley" [Trytten Farms, Wasilla, Matanuska                                                               
Valley, letter of support in bill packet] would like to start its                                                               
own processing plant.  Since the owner milks his own cows and is                                                                
there for all aspects of the process, he would be able to purchase                                                              
a carton stating he does not use hormones in his milk.  However,                                                                
"Mat-Maid" [Matanuska Maid, Incorporated] could not use the label                                                               
because 70 percent of its milk comes from out-of-state.  This milk                                                              
is pooled with Alaskan-produced milk.  There is no way to tell if                                                               
that 70 percent has been produced with bST; therefore Mat-Maid                                                                  
would not be able to use the label.  Mr. Fellman noted it is                                                                    
essentially a voluntary label for small family farmers.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2433                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if North Star Dairy imported milk.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN stated all of their milk is produced in Delta from five                                                             
dairy farms.  Everything they have goes into fluid milk right into                                                              
the market.  Mr. Fellman noted the decision to use the label would                                                              
be up to Don Lintelman, the owner of Northern Lights Dairy.  If so,                                                             
Mr. Lintelman and all the farmers would have to sign a statement                                                                
guaranteeing they are not using the hormone.  Mr. Fellman noted he                                                              
doesn't think Mr. Lintelman is interested in using the label, but                                                               
he himself and others in the state are interested in attacking the                                                              
small niche markets.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2479                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI returned to the enforcement aspect and the                                                             
associated criminal negligence penalties.  She asked, "If you have                                                              
a small dairy, say you only have five cows, and you inject four of                                                              
them, and you get caught, all you..." [TESTIMONY INTERRUPTED BY                                                                 
TAPE CHANGE]                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-23, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI continued, "... hang over somebody's head                                                              
without the enforcement aspect being clear.  So if you can help me                                                              
out with that I'd appreciate it."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN commented there is going to be an element of honesty                                                                
here.  He doesn't know anyone milking five cows who is selling                                                                  
their milk legally.  Normally, anybody who is milking five cows is                                                              
not pasteurizing or homogenizing their milk, and does not have a                                                                
"Grade A" permit to start with.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0024                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                
(DEC) personnel were available via teleconference for questions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said they might want to move from a Class A                                                                
misdemeanor  to a violation, to possibly address Representative                                                                 
Murkowski's concern and for Representative Harris's consideration.                                                              
With a violation, a ticket could be written and the farmer could be                                                             
penalized economically.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee would go to                                                                           
teleconference testimony.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0076                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JANICE ADAIR, Director, Division of Environmental Health,                                                                       
Department of Environmental Conservation testified via                                                                          
teleconference from Anchorage.  She noted Bert Gore is the state                                                                
veterinarian and Belinda Clifton is the division's dairy                                                                        
specialist.  Both are present for technical questions.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG pointed out that HB 110 includes meat and                                                                     
products as well as milk.  The chairman asked Mr. Fellman why this                                                              
had been expanded to meat products.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied that rBGH [synthetic bovine growth hormone] is                                                              
being used to induce growth in beef cattle.  Instead of an                                                                      
injection, the hormone is most commonly introduced through an                                                                   
implant in the steer's ear for sustained release, enhancing the                                                                 
cow's growth.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0129                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Mr. Fellman could show him where                                                                  
cheese would be included in the legislation regarding the labeling.                                                             
He noted it appeared to speak to fluid milk.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN said he thought it covered cheese, and with                                                                         
Representative Halcro's assistance noted page 2, line 6.  [This                                                                 
subsection reads:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     * Section 1.  AS 17.20.005 is amended to read:                                                                             
          Sec. 17.20.005.  Powers and duties of commissioner.                                                                   
     To carry out the requirements of this chapter, the                                                                         
     commissioner may issue orders, regulations, permits,                                                                       
     quarantines, and embargoes relating to ...                                                                                 
               (4) labeling, subject to AS 17.20.013 and                                                                        
     17.20.015, and grading of milk and milk products and                                                                       
     standards of sanitation for dairies offering to the                                                                        
     public or selling milk or milk products to at least he                                                                     
     minimum of current recommendations of the United States                                                                    
     Public Health Service pasteurized milk ordinance as it                                                                     
     may be periodically revised;]                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0167                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if Ms. Adair or her support staff wished to                                                             
comment on the legislation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0171                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR answered in the affirmative and began her formal                                                                      
testimony as director of the Division of Environmental Health,                                                                  
Department of Environmental Conservation.  Food safety issues fall                                                              
within this division.  She said the legislation essentially has two                                                             
aspects: 1) the pull date for milk, 2) the bST labeling.  The                                                                   
division finds the milk pull date problematic:  there are new                                                                   
pasteurization techniques that can give milk a 65 to 70 day shelf                                                               
life.  There are also pasteurization techniques that give                                                                       
shelf-stable product not requiring refrigeration.  A scenario could                                                             
be set up where a lot of good milk would be thrown away because it                                                              
would not be bad after 18 days.  The division also wonders how this                                                             
would affect shipment into rural Alaska, where the milk products                                                                
could be arriving in villages around the pull date.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0212                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR noted there is guidance from the FDA regarding synthetic                                                              
hormone labeling.  This is something which has been the subject of                                                              
many court suits and has generated a lot of consumer interest.  The                                                             
FDA does not oppose labeling of milk or meat products as not being                                                              
produced using bST.  It does oppose the labeling "bST-free" but                                                                 
that is not being proposed here, to Ms. Adair's understanding.                                                                  
However, the FDA says labeling must be truthful and not misleading                                                              
in any way.  Ms. Adair stated there is no health effect from bST;                                                               
the milk from bST-supplemented cows is the same in every way -                                                                  
safety, composition, (indisc.) nutrition - as milk from other cows.                                                             
She indicated very low levels of bST occur naturally in milk.  The                                                              
division would have no way to test a milk product and determine                                                                 
whether or not it was obtained from a bST-induced cow.  Bovine                                                                  
somatotropin (bST) has no effect on people; it is destroyed during                                                              
digestion just like any other protein.  Ms. Adair noted, therefore,                                                             
no safety reason has been found to label products as not being from                                                             
bST-induced cows.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0275                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR confirmed it would be possible for Dr. Gore to determine                                                              
whether or not a living cow had been induced with bST.  Because the                                                             
injection location is part of the animal discarded during                                                                       
slaughtering, according to Ms. Adair's understanding, it is                                                                     
unlikely Dr. Gore could make this determination for a nonliving                                                                 
animal.  Ms. Adair stated, therefore, the division is unsure it                                                                 
could fairly enforce this.  Because of these problems, the FDA                                                                  
recommends that states require firms using such claims to establish                                                             
a plan, maintain records to substantiate the claim, and make those                                                              
records available for inspection.  Ms. Adair said she would hate to                                                             
see them establish a large recordkeeping requirement for a                                                                      
voluntary label but she is not sure they would be able to ensure                                                                
the label was accurately used any other way.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed that concluded Ms. Adair's testimony.                                                               
He asked about the zero fiscal note and its relation to her last                                                                
statement.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0327                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR indicated the fiscal note is zero because she is not                                                                  
really sure how the division could deal with the legislation.  She                                                              
confirmed to the chairman that an indeterminate [fiscal note] might                                                             
be a better characterization.  Ms. Adair added that the Department                                                              
of Law had been considering submitting a fiscal note because of                                                                 
potential legal challenges based on some issues with interstate                                                                 
commerce.  She was not sure what that department had decided, if it                                                             
had decided.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked about the problems regarding the issue of                                                               
meat and meat products.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR replied that, as she understands it, they would not be                                                                
able to tell if the meat was from cattle "injected with bST."  She                                                              
stated, "The injection site on the animal is not saved, and, as was                                                             
testified previously, that is one of the things the state vet would                                                             
need to look for in order to tell if a cow had been injected, and                                                               
that wouldn't be available to him."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0385                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked if it is correct that in other states                                                               
with these voluntary labeling requirements, it is basically up to                                                               
the individual farmer or cattle raiser to keep records that would                                                               
be audited if there is a question.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR replied she understands that is what the FDA recommends                                                               
but the division has not checked into other states' practices.  To                                                              
Representative Halcro's further question, Ms. Adair answered that                                                               
she is not aware of any other states with criminal penalties for                                                                
false labeling on this issue, but she has not checked with all 49                                                               
other states.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0441                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN said he wanted to address the pasteurization issue.  He                                                             
noted there are two types of pasteurization:  ultrapasteurization                                                               
and high-temperature pasteurization.  Ultrapasteurization is fairly                                                             
new technology.  Regarding the issue of interstate commerce, he                                                                 
brought up Florida's 12-day milk pull date and Georgia's 18-day                                                                 
pull date.  The only problem occurs if Georgia wants to send milk                                                               
to Florida; in this situation Georgia must label its milk                                                                       
accordingly.  Most of the milk Alaska imports comes from Washington                                                             
State; Washington is presently at 18 days.  Mr. Fellman indicated                                                               
the 18-day labeling requirement in the legislation is set because                                                               
of Washington's date.  Mr. Fellman noted, "But we did include                                                                   
high-temperature pasteurization [ultrapasteurization?].  Like I                                                                 
stated before, we are 40 years behind here in Alaska and it will be                                                             
a long time before any producers can afford the technology for                                                                  
high-temperature pasteurization [ultrapasteurization?].  So, if we                                                              
don't support the small farmer now, ... if the small farmer cannot                                                              
compete with longer shelf life, then the state of Alaska has lost                                                               
everything that it has invested in agriculture."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI indicated that almost completely answered                                                              
her question regarding ultrapasteurization, the technology                                                                      
improvements, et cetera.  However, the language in Section 2 of the                                                             
bill speaks about 18 days after the date of ultrapasteurization or                                                              
high-temperature pasteurization.  She thought Mr. Fellman had said                                                              
because it was 40 years behind Alaska was not to that                                                                           
ultrapasteurization point.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0538                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN replied this is correct but some of the milk coming                                                                 
from Washington State has been ultrapasteurized.  The largest                                                                   
percentage is still high-temperature pasteurization and has an                                                                  
18-day shelf life.  Mr. Fellman cited that he has been given                                                                    
anywhere from 25 to 90 days for ultrapasteurization shelf life.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI questioned whether it is reasonable to                                                                 
pull ultrapasteurized milk off the shelf when it still has another                                                              
25 or 50 good days left.  She asked if there couldn't be two                                                                    
different categories, one for regular pasteurized and one for                                                                   
ultrapasteurized.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN said there are two categories, but the problem is that                                                              
as ultrapasteurization becomes more and more prevalent, the Alaskan                                                             
farmer is going to be pushed out of the market.  Alaskan milk will                                                              
only have an 18-day shelf life, but out-of-state ultrapasterized                                                                
milk will have a much longer shelf life.  Mr. Fellman commented it                                                              
is a tough position but said the state has the right to set the                                                                 
standard although the technology may be different.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0619                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG indicated there are a number of people who wish                                                               
to testify.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked if any portion of the bill has problems                                                             
with interstate commerce provisions.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted the question was good.  He emphasized there                                                             
were witnesses waiting to testify for both this and the following                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. FELLMAN said, regarding interstate commerce, there isn't a                                                                  
problem as long as Alaska's standard for imported milk is the same                                                              
as wherever the milk is being imported from.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if Mr. Gore and Ms. Clifton wished to add                                                               
anything before the committee proceeded to local testimony.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0673                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BERT GORE, DVM, State Veterinarian, Animal Industries, Division of                                                              
Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation,                                                                 
testified next via teleconference from Anchorage.  He is located in                                                             
Palmer and gets out to the farms probably two to four times a year.                                                             
Dr. Gore said he does not understand the controversy with bST                                                                   
regarding called a synthetic hormone.  It is usual and customary                                                                
practice for the farmers to use the following synthetic hormones in                                                             
their cows on a regular basis.  These hormones are exempt drugs                                                                 
that do not require a veterinary prescription and have no                                                                       
withholding period for the milk or the meat.  Oxytocin - the most                                                               
commonly used one; it is used to let the milk down and can cause                                                                
increased uterine contractions during labor.  Lutalyse - the second                                                             
most prevalent hormone used.  It is used for estrus synchronization                                                             
in heifers, induces ovulation in cows, causes uterine contractions                                                              
to expel the afterbirth and fluids associated with endometritis.                                                                
It is an abortifacient in cattle and can cause abortion if handled                                                              
by pregnant women.  Cystorelin - used to lyse cysts in cows that                                                                
have nymphomaniac ovaries [used to lyse ovarian follicles which                                                                 
cause nymphomania in dairy cattle].  ECP [estradiol cypionate] - a                                                              
synthetic estrogen used to tone the uterus.  Dexamethasone - a                                                                  
synthetic steroid used quite frequently.  It is for use in horses                                                               
and dogs but also given to cattle.  Dr. Gore noted these are few of                                                             
the synthetic hormones and steroids used in our milk cows.  He does                                                             
not understand what makes bST different, and he guesses the big                                                                 
problem is that bST is manufactured in a biochemistry lab not the                                                               
chemistry lab.  He commented bST is a naturally occurring protein                                                               
secreted in the pituitary, it has no residue in the milk or meat.                                                               
Like its naturally-occurring counterpart, rbST [bST produced using                                                              
fermentation technology] has the same characteristics.  Dr. Gore                                                                
indicated it is not detectable.  Its purpose is to allow the cow to                                                             
produce more milk.  Dr. Gore further indicated it seems this would                                                              
be desirable if the state is supposed to become more                                                                            
self-sufficient in agriculture.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0787                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BELINDA CLIFTON, Environmental Health Officer II, Animal                                                                        
Industries, Division of Environmental Health, Department of                                                                     
Environmental Conservation, testified next via teleconference from                                                              
Anchorage.  Ms. Clifton stated there are four pasteurization                                                                    
processes used in the Lower 48 allowed by the "pasteurized milk                                                                 
ordinance" which Alaska has adopted.  1) High-temperature                                                                       
short-time pasteurization which usually starts at 161 degrees for                                                               
15 seconds.  2) High-heat short-time pasteurization which allows                                                                
milk to be pasteurized at a minimum of 191 degrees for 1 second.                                                                
3) Ultrapasteurization short-time which requires temperatures of                                                                
290 degrees for 2 seconds.  4) Ultrapasteurized short-time                                                                      
temperature with an aseptic process filler; this is a packaging                                                                 
process where the product goes into a hermetically-sealed container                                                             
that keeps the milk sterile and shelf-stable for non-refrigerated                                                               
conditions.  Ms. Clifton mentioned this last product is used quite                                                              
a bit by the United States Army and also probably goes out to Bush                                                              
Alaska.  Ms. Clifton said these pasteurization processes used in                                                                
the Lower 48 are highly technical and she agreed with Mr. Fellman                                                               
that Alaska is about 40 or more years behind in these processes.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if state regulations currently determine                                                                
the pull date of milk.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLIFTON answered in the negative.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked what determines the pull date in Alaska.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0871                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLIFTON replied that in Alaska it is left up to the processing                                                              
facility.  This is pretty much how it is handled throughout the                                                                 
entire United States.  The facility determines what type of quality                                                             
it wants at the end of its pull date.  For the majority of the                                                                  
facilities, the pull date will usually be about a week before the                                                               
milk will spoil.  Ms. Clifton said a lot of the Texas processing                                                                
plants have a 14-day pull date; that is simply because they want                                                                
their milk to be good a full week after.  The pull date depends on                                                              
the quality the plant wants to give to the consumer.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if the plant dictates where the milk is                                                                 
shipped.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLIFTON answered in the positive.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG commented, then, there is a lack of state                                                                     
regulation and statute in regard to pull dates.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLIFTON replied, "I'm not aware of any that actually require                                                                
certain states to have mandated pull dates, especially with the                                                                 
higher pasteurization process, like the ultrapasteurization process                                                             
and the aseptic processing."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0938                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee would take testimony in                                                               
Juneau on HB 110.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0961                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JULIE KOEHLER came forward to testify in Juneau in support of HB
110.  Ms. Koehler stated she lives in Juneau and is testifying on                                                               
her own behalf.  She believes this bill is an important step in the                                                             
public's right to know about what ingredients are, or are not, in                                                               
our food products.  This labeling gives her the information                                                                     
necessary to make purchasing decisions as an individual about                                                                   
foods, products, and brands.  Ms. Koehler mentioned known                                                                       
carcinogens in today's world.  She is concerned because she has                                                                 
heard differing information about whether or not this hormone is a                                                              
carcinogen.  She buys organic as much as possible to protect                                                                    
herself and her family, reading labels to find out whether or not                                                               
things are added and specifically checking for that hormone.  Ms.                                                               
Koehler noted the government never addresses the cumulative amounts                                                             
of all these small amounts of carcinogens, so she, as an                                                                        
individual, can address the cumulative effects of all of those                                                                  
things in her foods by reading the labels and making purchasing                                                                 
decisions.  She asked the committee to amend the bill to make the                                                               
punishment to the farmer for false labeling a fine large enough to                                                              
hurt.  She commented a small fine, a misdemeanor of $1,000 or                                                                   
whatever, could just be considered a cost of business.  All the                                                                 
organic products are sold at a higher price; this is why the                                                                    
farmers want to be able to say it is free of the hormone.  Ms.                                                                  
Koehler indicated a higher fine that couldn't be considered a cost                                                              
of doing business would protect the individual.  She mentioned that                                                             
the enforcement is a matter of honesty.  Ms. Koehler stated she is                                                              
willing to pay that higher price and she hoped the committee would                                                              
pass the legislation.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1102                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DONALD LINTELMAN, Northern Lights Dairy, testified next via                                                                     
teleconference from Delta Junction in support of HB 110.  He stated                                                             
they pick up milk from five farms and, at this point, do not use                                                                
these hormones in the milk and would like to be able to label the                                                               
milk that way because he thinks they could end up with more sales.                                                              
Mr. Lintelman indicated at some time the Fairbanks newspaper had                                                                
mentioned bST was coming up and there were some legal problems with                                                             
the state of Minnesota.  He indicated people had called his dairy                                                               
saying they wouldn't buy the milk because it contained bST.  Mr.                                                                
Lintelman said he needs every customer he has, so he assures these                                                              
people it is not in there.  He reiterated his support for the                                                                   
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked what restricts him from labeling that now.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. LINTELMAN replied that he did not know.  He indicated there                                                                 
aren't any laws in Alaska regarding this and he would be worried                                                                
about being sued.  He added, " And I would like to see this                                                                     
hormones (indisc.) for this area, at least for this present time."                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG said he understands and appreciates Mr.                                                                       
Lintelman's point, noting some people think we have too many laws.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1187                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO confirmed Mr. Lintelman buys milk from five                                                               
independent farms.  He further confirmed Mr. Lintelman had heard                                                                
the state veterinarian's testimony about the enforcement problems                                                               
with the legislation and the veterinarian's own disagreement with                                                               
the concern over bST.  Representative Halcro then asked Mr.                                                                     
Lintelman if he wouldn't have some liability, some exposure, if,                                                                
giving an example, one of his farmers is caught misrepresenting his                                                             
milk.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. LINTELMAN agreed.  He said it would probably put him out of                                                                 
business.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG commented he has been following the Matanuska                                                                 
Valley dairy industry for a long time.  He asked how many dairy                                                                 
farmers are left in the "Mat Valley."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. LINTELMAN guessed five, noting he has no idea at this point.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1263                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARGARET CARR came forward to testify in Juneau in support of HB
110.  Ms. Carr noted she lives in Anchorage and is testifying on                                                                
her own behalf.  She thinks this bill is a step in the right                                                                    
direction for both the consumers and the farmers in Alaska.  First,                                                             
it supports her right to know and choose as a consumer.  There are                                                              
too many instances where we do not know what is going into the                                                                  
products we eat and drink.  Encouraging the labeling of milk that                                                               
does not contain bovine growth hormone, for example, allows us to                                                               
make decisions regarding which products we would like to purchase.                                                              
In addition, Ms. Carr thinks those Alaskan farms not using the                                                                  
bovine growth hormone can create a positive niche and attract a                                                                 
greater consumer base.  She indicated she personally would like to                                                              
support the business of these farmers.  Ms. Carr echoed Ms.                                                                     
Koehler's request for an amendment providing a more severe penalty                                                              
to those mislabelling their products.  She urged the committee to                                                               
support the legislation.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed Ms. Carr is a natural foods consumer,                                                               
not a marketer.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1360                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE WILSON, Alaska Conservation Voice, came forward to testify                                                             
next in Juneau in support of HB 110.  Ms. Wilson stated she was                                                                 
representing both the Alaska Conservation Voice and herself as a                                                                
new mother.  She is part of that market niche being discussed                                                                   
today.  Ms. Wilson emotionally expressed her concern that it had                                                                
not been that long ago that committees discussed "DDT" and said                                                                 
there were no long-term health problems with "DDT" and other                                                                    
chemicals.  Ms. Wilson is learning that there are many studies                                                                  
showing that this hormone is affecting cows.  Cows are having more                                                              
heart attacks.  It worries her that all these people are being                                                                  
exposed to this hormone, the long-term effects are not known, and                                                               
there are all these cancers currently in our society linked to the                                                              
food we are eating.  Ms. Wilson said Alaskans have to celebrate                                                                 
that small Alaskan family farmers are not using this hormone yet.                                                               
She indicated small Alaskan family farmers need the kind of support                                                             
the legislature can give so that they can keep their farms healthy,                                                             
allowing Alaskans to buy Alaskan-grown food and healthy food.  Ms.                                                              
Wilson indicated she saw some contradictions in the DEC's Ms. Adair                                                             
first saying there are no known health effects of bST and Ms.                                                                   
Adair's later statement that her knowledge is not necessarily                                                                   
complete.  Ms. Wilson emphasized that the long-term effects [of                                                                 
bST] are not known.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1547                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BOB SHAVELSON came forward to testify next in Juneau in support of                                                              
HB 110.  Mr. Shavelson stated he is representing himself and he is                                                              
from Homer.  He said some of the earlier testimony made him think                                                               
he was listening to a Monsanto commercial.  He thinks it is                                                                     
accurate to depict the debates going on here as a raging debate                                                                 
going on throughout the country as to whether rbGH, or bovine                                                                   
growth hormone, is safe to use.  Mr. Shavelson commented he thinks                                                              
it is safe to say a lot of the Monsanto-supported research shows                                                                
this.  Recently there has been a very serious debate in the Vermont                                                             
legislature and elsewhere in that state, and evidence is coming out                                                             
that it is not safe.  Mr. Shavelson noted Ms. Wilson's testimony                                                                
that the cows get sicker; as a result of that, increases in                                                                     
antibiotic use are seen.  Mr. Shavelson said there are also                                                                     
problems in our society with the influx of those chemicals in the                                                               
environment, and in our bodies.  He perceives a dichotomy between                                                               
the zero fiscal note and "then all of a sudden it becomes ... this                                                              
great burden."  He does not know what transpired at DEC to cause                                                                
this great shift in the administrative burden.  One possible                                                                    
solution is that anyone distributing rbGH in the state be required                                                              
to report who it is being sold to.  Mr. Shavelson does not think                                                                
that would create a great administrative burden for anyone to                                                                   
handle.  He indicated the legislation supports the consumer's right                                                             
to know and right to choose between his or her food products.  He                                                               
added, "Just because some large, multinational chemical corporation                                                             
is telling us it's safe based on their studies, I don't think                                                                   
Alaskans need to bow to that pressure.  I think we should have the                                                              
right to choose and support our local farmers."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1656                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHAVELSON commented on a couple of items not mentioned, but                                                                 
that he considers relevant.  Monsanto is moving forward with a                                                                  
"terminator" seed:  genetically-altered products meant to be                                                                    
sterile after one or two seasons.  There is great concern there                                                                 
that this will affect wild seed stocks across the world.  Monsanto                                                              
is also developing a special chemically-resistant strain of cotton                                                              
and other products to be marketed with its pesticide Roundup.  Mr.                                                              
Shavelson concluded that Monsanto has a vested interest in making                                                               
a profit and selling these items to consumers; the company will not                                                             
want to reveal there may be some problems with this.  Monsanto                                                                  
vigorously litigates anybody that opposes them.  There was extended                                                             
litigation in the situation with Ben and Jerry's mentioned earlier                                                              
[3/15/99 Monsanto letter]. Mr. Shavelson indicated the issues of                                                                
the terminator seed and the Roundup-dependent crops comes back to                                                               
the rbGH  labeling.  He stated, "This is just common-sense stuff.                                                               
We have a right to know what's in our food and we have a right to                                                               
choose, and I would encourage you to pass this bill out of the                                                                  
committee."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1738                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO commented Mr. Shavelson had raised a good                                                                 
question as far as disclosure, but there is the state                                                                           
veterinarian's testimony that several "synthetics" [hormones] can                                                               
be purchased without a veterinarian's assistance.  Representative                                                               
Halcro asked how disclosure could be mandated when any farmer could                                                             
just buy these things over the counter.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHAVELSON replied he does not pretend to know all the                                                                       
mechanisms of the distribution of these hormones.  He imagines it                                                               
is a fairly discrete market and the distribution within the state                                                               
could be tracked.  Mr. Shavelson continued, "The other idea where                                                               
typically in a policy matter where we have a difficulty enforcing                                                               
something, we do tend to elevate the penalty for it ... The                                                                     
disincentive increases as the monetary penalty increases ...."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed there were no further questions for Mr.                                                             
Shavelson.  The chairman stated the public testimony on HB 110 is                                                               
concluded for this hearing but would be kept open.  He indicated he                                                             
is concerned about the pull date requirement because of the new                                                                 
technology, and is wondering if, since the private sector has been                                                              
doing this, why it can't be left to them.  The chairman indicated                                                               
the committee might want to hear from Matanuska Maid and some of                                                                
the others involved in the Alaska dairy business.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1868                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA commented she sees a variety of Alaskan                                                                   
markets, some wanting to know there are no artificial hormones, et                                                              
cetera, preferring an Alaskan product and something that is not                                                                 
ultrapasterized; others, especially in more remote areas of the                                                                 
state, seeking a product with as long a shelf life as possible.                                                                 
She indicated she thinks it is important they ensure that Alaskan                                                               
consumers have a variety of choices and that is her problem with                                                                
the legislation's pull date requirement.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1927                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE noted for Representative Harris that the                                                                   
labeling statutes in Section 1 are subject to AS 17.20.013 and AS                                                               
17.20.015 which refer specifically to fluid milk.  This would not                                                               
allow for the labeling of cheese products or other milk products.                                                               
Representative Brice commented there has been conflicting                                                                       
testimony, asking the sponsor to check into this because he                                                                     
(Representative Brice) thinks there is a niche market for these                                                                 
products.  He indicated he would like to make sure the legislation                                                              
includes these products.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG commended the bill to the sponsor for further                                                                 
work, noting the committee would hear the legislation again when                                                                
the sponsor is ready.  The chairman said he is supportive of                                                                    
anything that can help the state's small businesses and farmers.                                                                
He indicated the labeling issue has certain merit, but said there                                                               
are a lot of problems that need to be worked out with the DEC, the                                                              
dairy industry, et cetera.  The chairman commented the meat aspects                                                             
of the legislation had not been addressed except by Mr. Fellman.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects