John Stauber Papers Related to rBGH, 1970s-2001 (bulk 1988-1995)

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists solely of John Stauber's files related to his work on the anti-rBGH campaign, mainly 1988 to 1995, and documents the investigative and strategic aspects of Stauber's work on this issue. Included are organizing materials such as working notes, correspondence, press releases, and other publicity materials from Stauber's involvement with the Foundation on Economic Trends, its Pure Food Campaign project, and affiliated groups in the anti-BGH coalition. The rest of the collection consists of research and subject files (many of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act and Wisconsin Open Records requests) for government agencies, dairy and pharmaceutical industry groups, public relations firms, university agriculture and extension departments, and professional and trade organizations. The papers also include a substantial portion of news clippings, both from industry groups monitoring media coverage of the rBST issue and from activists working against use of this hormone commonly referred to in the John Stauber papers as rBGH or BGH, the term favored by BGH opponents. Also included is a scrapbook compiled by Lorraine Hawkinson, a community member who wrote editorials (included in the scrapbook) regarding her concerns about the use of rBGH.


The BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH MATERIALS series is arranged in the following subseries: Consumer organizations, Dairy and food industry, Federal departments and agencies, Pharmaceutical companies, Professional and trade associations, and University agriculture and extension departments.

Much of the material from federal agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture was obtained through Stauber's Freedom of Information requests. Correspondence from agency representatives includes detailed lists of responsive documents and are arranged under the relevant agencies. Stauber also kept a set of FOIA files arranged in numerical order, and this has been retained for user reference, despite duplication with other files in the collection.

The Consumer organizations subseries consists mainly of Consumers Union materials, particularly the work of Michael K. Hansen, a research scientist with the Consumer Policy Institute, a division of Consumers Union, and includes Hansen's report, “Biotechnology and Milk: Benefit or Threat?,” as well as correspondence, press releases, news clippings, and Hansen's testimony before the FDA's Food and Veterinary Advisory Committees.

The Dairy and food industry subseries is arranged by constituent organizations, such as the Dairy Industry Coalition (including its Dairy News and Information Center), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA), and related to the issue of rBST and how its introduction could best be handled from a public relations perspective. This part of the collection includes correspondence, press releases, news clippings, reports on consumer attitudes, and public relations objectives.

The Federal departments and agencies subseries consists primarily of files related to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDPRB, also known as the National Dairy Board (NDB)), and includes correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, media monitoring of the rBST issue, NDB research on anti-rBGH organizations, educational materials on rBST, Freedom of Information Act request materials, memoranda of agreement for research with various universities, and other NDB documents that Stauber believed were evidence of a pro-BGH bias. The USDA files include incoming correspondence from citizens concerned about the BGH issue.

Also included are files related to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approved the use of rBST, including files on Richard Burroughs, a FDA official who was critical of the BST approval process; a report written by two staff scientists, Judith C. Juskevich and C. Greg Guyer, that was published in the journal Science in 1990, disagreements with its findings, and its impact on the BGH issue; and outgoing correspondence from Gerald Guest, Richard Lehmann, and Frank Young. Other agencies include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which held a technology assessment conference on bovine somatotropin at the end of 1990. Also included in this subseries are committee and agency reports, and files on key individuals associated with the BGH controversy.

The Pharmaceutical companies subseries consists of files of American Cyanamid, Eli Lilly, and Monsanto, the three main companies producing bovine somatotropin (bST), also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and related organizations such as the Animal Health Institute (AHI), which had an active public information program regarding bST. The coverage of Monsanto, the manufacturer that first won FDA approval in November 1993 to market its version of bST (Posilac) and received the most media coverage in the BGH controversy, is the most extensive. Included are educational, promotional, and press materials, as well as materials on Monsanto focus groups that took place prior to FDA approval of the drug, and subsequent allegations of improper promotion. Documentation of the other manufacturers is relatively sparse.

The Professional and trade associations subseries includes files on organizations which became involved in the bST issue such as the American Medical Association and bST coverage in its medical journal, and other organizations which took positions on the issue.

The University agriculture and extension departments subseries consists of files on Dale Bauman at Cornell University, the animal scientist who performed early research into rbST as a cost-efficient technology for increasing dairy milk production; and BGH related research and controversy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The ANTI-BGH ACTIVITY series includes files on various organizations working on the BGH issue, most prominently the Foundation on Economic Trends (FET) and its Pure Food Campaign (PFC), for which Stauber played a key organizing role. The FET/PFC boycott of BGH dairy foods materials include press releases, event flyers, bumper stickers, action alerts, organizing kits, and information on services such as the 900 number (1-900-PUREFOOD) for the public to retrieve general information on BGH, boycott tactics, and lists of resources for BGH-free dairy products. Also included are files on two federal lawsuits in which FET participated: the first (1990) charged that the National Dairy Board and BGH manufacturers had participated in promotion of BGH before it had received FDA approval, and the other (1994) challenged the FDA's approval of BGH.

Other topics documented in this series relate to the European Commission's moratorium on BGH and concerns about its effect on the U.S., the role of BGH milk in school cafeterias and concern for its long-term health effects on children, unknown effects on human health in general, economic effects of BGH on small scale dairy farmers, organizing actions and legislation regarding labeling in individual U.S. states, primarily Vermont and Wisconsin. Despite signing a temporary ban on the use of BGH until June 1, 1991 (the first BGH moratorium in the U.S.) in 1990, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson vetoed a more comprehensive BGH ban proposed by then State Senator Russ Feingold. Of note in the Wisconsin files are open records requests that relate to Governor Thompson's veto of a subsequent BGH moratorium in 1991.

Photocopied newspaper clippings are found throughout the collection, as well as dedicated clippings files in this series, arranged by year and topic.

The SUBJECT FILES series includes files on biotechnology related issues, such as porcine somatotropin (PST), the Calgene Flavr Savr tomato, and files on other applications of biotechnology.

The VISUAL MATERIALS series includes one folder of black and white prints, negatives, and contact sheets of “milk dump” demonstrations, and six video recordings, including promotional videos, media coverage, and a news conference with Governor Tommy Thompson.

Individuals and their roles in the John Stauber papers include:

  • Bauman, Dale E.: Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor, Cornell University
  • Burroughs, Richard: veterinarian and former FDA official
  • Carson, Cynthia: Chief Executive Officer, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board
  • Cummins, Ronnie: National Director, Pure Food Campaign
  • Epstein, Samuel, M.D.: Professor, University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Feingold, Russ: Wisconsin State Senator (1983-1993), U.S. Senator (1993-2011)
  • Guest, Gerald: Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA
  • Hardin, Pete: Editor and Publisher, The Milkweed
  • Hess, Charles E.: Assistant Secretary, Science and Education, USDA
  • Kessler, David: Commissioner, FDA
  • Kronfeld, David: Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech (1988-2005)
  • Rifkin, Jeremy: Head, Foundation on Economic Trends
  • Shalala, Donna: Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1988-1993); Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (1993-2001)
  • Taylor, Michael R.: Deputy Commissioner for Policy, FDA
  • Thompson, Tommy: Governor, State of Wisconsin (1987-2001)
  • Tracy, Alan T.: Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Von Meyer, William: President, Fairview Industries
  • Weiss, Richard B.: Senior Vice President, Public Relations, NDPRB
  • Yeutter, Clayton: Secretary of Agriculture, USDA
  • Young, Frank: Commissioner of Food and Drugs, FDA