Monsanto Agricultural Co. said Wednesday that it will continueto speak out publicly to counter what it considers incorrect ormisleading criticism of bovine somatotropin (BST).

In January, the Food and Drug Administration orderedMonsanto to halt promotions of BST as a safe and effectiveproduct for increasing milk production in cows.

The Jan. 9 letter from the FDA cited 24 statements made by thecompany that were "clearly promotional."

In a response released Wednesday, Monsanto Vice PresidentLee A. Miller said, "We cannot and should not abandon ourright to participate in the debate" over BST.

FDA regulations prohibit a company from making safety orefficacy claims about a product until it has been approved bythe agency. Monsanto's BST is still under FDA review.

Miller said Monsanto will stop sponsoring seminars on BST forveterinarians and dairymen until the drug is approved.Nevertheless, he said, the company would try to countercriticisms about BST that Monsanto believes are misleading orincorrect.

BST has been one of the most controversial products ofbiotechnology. Critics claim that increases in milk production,anticipated to be anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent, willdrive small dairy farms out of existence. Last year, several keydairy states passed legislation designed to delay the use of BST.

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