Buzz

Java jive

Java jive:It was a small protest--one 19-year-old girl standing outside a Dallas Starbucks on Tuesday to object to the coffeehouse corporation's sale of milk products from cows treated with a bioengineered hormone and food and beverages containing genetically modified ingredients.

Who says kids today aren't politically active?

The girl, Emily Allgaier, was Dallas' lone entry into what was billed as a nationwide protest organized by the Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, and other green groups. They are demanding that Starbucks live up to its marketing and become the sort of friend-to-hoi polloi company that one expects the purveyors of $4 cups of coffee to be.

"People need to stop being so cruel to the environment and animals," says Allgaier, a former UT-Pan Am student presently taking an unscheduled break at the university's invitation because she enjoyed college life too much and her classes too little.

Who says kids today don't know how to party?

So the Dallas leg of what was billed as a multicity protest was a bit of a bust. Doesn't matter. Starbucks--in addition to being a cool, here's-some-world-music-for-ya corporate monolith--is a big chicken. Before protesters even took to the streets, the company announced that it would try to serve only milk from cows not treated with bovine growth hormone and eliminate other genetically altered products from its stock. Why? Because people like Emily think these products are very, very bad.

Bovine growth hormone extracted from genetically modified bacteria is injected into dairy cattle to boost milk production. The Food and Drug Administration has found no evidence--none, nada, zip--that the practice affects human health--unless you count the benefits of having ample supplies of cheap milk. But Starbucks swears it will do its best to rid its stores of the offending milk, despite the fact it's virtually impossible to tell which milk came from treated cows.

The score: Emily 1, science and rationality 0.

That's not an outcome that makes people like Steve Milloy, president of Citizens for the Integrity of Science, happy. "For Starbucks to cave in like this is ridiculous," he told Buzz. "Starbucks is trying to go along to get along."

Milloy, whose organization publishes the Web site www.junkscience.com, and others say that since there's no evidence that engineered products such as bovine growth hormone do any harm--and plenty of evidence they do good--Starbucks would be a better corporate citizen if it resisted "green extremists."

"This further encourages these extreme groups because they see the companies can be stampeded into abandoning these...products," Milloy says.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

 
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