The agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. said it would sell its milk hormone Posilac (rbST, rbGH) to Eli Lilly & Co. for $300 million upfront, plus “additional contingent consideration.”

The agreement will expand Lilly’s veterinary operations and enable Monsanto to focus on genetically modified crops. That same day, Lilly’s stock fell 39 cents to $47.41 while Monsanto’s rose $5.22, or 4.6 percent to $118.08, as reported by Bloomberg.

Posilac is not that popular with the public, at least if Monsanto‘s resounding defeat in state after state indicates anything. Monsanto launched aggressive efforts in NY, OH, PA, MO, UT and IN to eliminate labels that let you choose milk free of added Posilac.

But gulping hormone milk doesn’t sound appealing to most people. Said Kerry Trueman at Huffington Post:

…[M]uch to the consternation of the corporations who peddle these products, wary parents are avoiding antibiotic and hormone-tainted dairy products, meats, and other foods for their kids’ sake and their own health, too, as more and more folks begin to wonder what all these adulterated foods may be doing to us.

Sadly, your desire to know whether the milk you buy came from an rBST-injected cow or how the meat you eat was raised conflicts with Agribiz and Big Food’s desire to turn a profit. So they’re pulling out all the stops to prevent you from having access to that information, with the help of “our” government.

This milk hormone has been under fire since its approval by the FDA in 1993. Monsanto says the use of rbGH increases milk production by 10 to 15 percent using the same number of cows. What Monsanto doesn’t say is that it has been banned by Canada, Japan, and the European Union because of the negative effects of rbGH use on animal health, and the food safety division of the United Nations has twice decided not to endorse the safety of rbGH for human health. Food & Water Watch has compiled a list of reports on human health and animal welfare concerns associated with rbGH.

The majority of us are concerned about drinking unnaturally produced milk. According to a June 2007 Consumer Reports National Research Center poll, 76% of us are concerned about dairy cows given synthetic growth hormones. 88% of us agree that milk from cows raised without synthetic bovine growth hormone should be allowed to be labeled as such. In response to consumer demand, several major chains like Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart sell dairy without the suspect hormone.

In December 2007, we sent a letter to Ohio’s governor, signed by dozens of consumer, environmental and animal welfare groups, retailers, dairies and farmers, saying that we have a right-to-know about the foods we eat, and any prohibition would be violating the free speech rights of farmers to inform us about their agricultural practices. In February we wrote to Utah’s governor and Department of Agriculture signed by 90 groups not to ban milk hormone labeling.
Recently, labeling bans have been dismissed in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New Jersey due to overwhelming public opposition. The campaign is on the ropes.

Monsanto was getting desperate, and its claims wilder. A recent study by scientists with ties to Monsanto and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed that injecting cows with rbGH would reduce global warming. And it paid farmer groups to support its cause. The American Farmers for Advancement and Conservation of Technology (Afact), a group that lobbies retailers and state governments to pass laws to ban or restrict rbGH-free milk labels, received funds from Monsanto.

Monsanto may have dumped their milk hormone on Eli Lilly, but look for a new round of aggressive tactics from the company to promote its GMO seeds. Last week, Monsanto dug its heels through China, announcing an $84 million joint venture with China National Seed Group Corp., which would expand its existing corn seed business, as well as increase access to corn seed hybrids.