Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meaty Mondays Series: Meat & Your Health (Part 2 of 3)

Tuesday, I wrote about how the antibiotics in meat affects our health.  See post here.  Today I will be talking about another set of chemicals, hormones, that dairy cows receive to produce more milk. I know milk is not Meat and it brings up many other issues that does not apply to my Meaty Monday theme but it does come from the same convoluted industry and I feel like this is such an important topic. Look for info on meat and hormones in my next post.

Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) scientifically known as bovine somatotropin (BST), is a naturally occurring hormone. When ingested by baby cows, it stimulates growth. When taken by adult cows, it stimulates milk production. In the early 1990’s, scientists at Monsanto developed a synthetic version of BGH called recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST) via biotechnology. Their goal was to sell the hormone to dairy farmers with the value that it would increase the rate of milk production. Monsanto produced an inadequate study that observed 30 rats over 90 days of rBGH exposure to the FDA. The study was never published but according to the FDA, it did not show any issues. So, the FDA approved the use of rBGH! Monsanto now sells rBGH to dairy farms across the country with the continued support of the FDA. Today, about 20% of dairy cows, the majority in large herds (500+ cows), are injected with rBGH and as a result, milk production increases 8% to 17%. That is a lot of milk for the 20 billion gallon per year industry.

Thank you, Huffington Post

The use of rBGH is extremely controversial, so much so that Canada, Australia, Japan and the European Union all have prohibited the use of rBGH! It’s unbelievable that the FDA and USDA continue to permit the use of this hormone. The label on the container of the hormones actually lists over 20 toxic side that rBGH has on cows!! Bacterial udder infections in dairy cows that are administered rBGH have increased by 25%, which increases the use of antibiotics…*shudder* Due to these infections, bacteria, blood, pus and more not-so-appetizing things secrete into the milk. And folks, that’s why our milk needs to be pasteurized… Additionally, milk from cows injected with rBGH has higher levels of a hormone call Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Both colon and breast cancer have been linked to people with elevated levels of IGF-1. Additionally, the countries that have banned rBGH milk have done tests of their own with outcomes that have steered them from the use of rBGH in their country.
So how can the US sell such a product? Well the answer is long and very much entangled as the relationship between Monsanto and key decision makers in the government are very close. Instead, let’s explore what you can do about hormones in your milk. Due to increasing consumer awareness and concern, some dairy products do state that they are “rBGH (or rBST) free.” Now you may have seen labels say rBGH-free but then also say “'no significant difference has been shown between milk from rBST-treated and untreated cows.” (see below) The reason for this is 100% political. Don’t believe that statement for a second. As consumers become more aware and voice their opinions, stores are responding. I know that my local Trader Joe’s has dairy products without rBGH-not sure if it’s all of them though. In 2007, grocery store chains, Kroger and Safeway, banned the use of rBGH-treated milk in their store-branded dairy products. In January 2008, Starbucks stopped using rBGH-treated milk, and in March 2008, WalMart banned rBGH use in their store-brand milk products. Now, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of WalMart but I do believe that it does have an enormous amount of buying power in the market and am excited that they made this move. It also shows a trend in the consumer market since I’m sure WalMart only made that decision based on market demand.

Thank you

If you do not shop at Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, or WalMart, you can check out Sustainable Table's Eat Well Guide for listings of stores, restaurants and producers who sell milk without rBGH and their rBGH-free dairy map.

My sources & great resources in general:

No comments:

Post a Comment