Is rBST and rBGH enhanced milk safe? Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) are bioengineered versions of BST and BGH naturally produced in cows. These synthetic hormones, when injected into cows will increase milk production by 10% or a gallon or more per lactation cycle. The increased production of milk, transfers into saving for the consumer and bigger profits for the farmers. rBST and rBGH enhanced milk is also cheaper to produce and cheaper to buy than organic milk. But the question still remains: Is rBST and rBGH enhanced milk safe?
Many medical associations such as the American Medical Association have stated that milk from rBGH treated cows is safe for human consumption. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that it is perfectly safe. The FDA strengthen their position by claiming that the artificial hormones are modeled after hormones naturally produced in the pituitary gland of cattle and stand behind that claim, even while taking increased criticism from public outcry for their approval of use of rBST and rBGH. However, the FDA seem to counter themselves by a statement placed on their own approved labels for Prosilac (a generic name for rBST developed by the Monsanto Corporation) warning that cows injected with the product are at an increased risk of clinical mastitis – an infection of the udder that can produce visibly abnormal milk. “Visibly abnormal milk means that there is pus in the milk”. (T.B. Mepham)
The USDA estimates that in recent years, about 22% of all lactating dairy cows in the United States receive Prosilac injections. (circa 2002). Also, many of the industrialized nations around the globe including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, continue to outlaw the use of rBGH because of human and animal health concerns. Hopefully, and soon, America will join the list.
The FDA also ignore the wide range of evidence showing that milk from treated cows has an increased level of a spinoff hormone, Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) which causes the cow to produce more milk. IGF-1 is identical in cows and humans, and studies have shown that it causes cells to proliferate including cancerous cells. The Cancer Prevention Coalition says that the IGF-1 from rBGH treated milk is “supercharged” and can lead to an increased number of cancers in humans. (Epstein) IGF-1 may also contribute to abnormal birth rates or multiple live births referred to as “twinning.”
A report found in The Milkweed covers an article written in the May 2006 issue of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, which links increased “twinning” in humans in the U.S. to elevated levels of the secondary hormone IGF-1 found in milk. The article was authored by Gary Steinman, M. D. Ph. D., an obstetrician from Astoria, New York. Steinman contends that extra IGF-1 in milk from rBGH injected cows is causing a major increase in multiple births in the United States. His article summarizes; “Genotypes favoring elevated IGF and diets including dairy products, especially in areas where growth hormone is given to cattle, appear to enhance the chances of multiple pregnancies due to ovarian stimulation”.
Table 1 of Steinman’s article titled “Total Twin Births per 100 Live Births in the United States” details the following data (reformatted from the original):
Year Rate of Twins per 100 births
rBGH was approved by the FDA in November 1993 and marketed in February 1994.
I have always maintained a healthy lifestyle and have chosen organic foods over canned foods many times, and my habits during grocery shopping have been labeled as obsessive since I spend more time reading labels and ingredients than I do actually shopping. Items with the word “Artificial” never make it into my shopping basket especially foods grown or produced through means of bioengineering. This brings us back to the original question concerning the safety of rBST and rBGH enhanced milk. Given the potential health risks to humans and bovine, my answer to that question is “no”. As far as questions are concerned, I have a few for the FDA and the ethics involved in their decision. Does the FDA truly believe that bioengineered hormones and drugs are safe to consume? Would anybody working for the FDA allow their own children to consume products developed through bioengineering? Do large amounts of money act as blindfolds and bindings, keeping them from telling the truth?
In conclusion: The FDA’s claim of “safe consumption” and “naturally occurring” are smoke screens used to cheat and defraud us of the truth, and instead place us into a haze of mundane security. The FDA along with the manufacturers of these hormones such as Monsanto, bilks the American farmers and the American people out of $500 million dollars annually. Their motives seem purely financial and their statements seem to be enhanced through cover-up and rhetoric’s, just as well and as tasteful as the enhancement of milk through the use of bioengineering. The FDA’s apparent greed, and disdain for public safety and awareness, truly sours the milk.
Epstein, Samual. The Cancer Prevention Coalition. “Is rBGH milk different from other milk?” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 1992. Summarized by T.B. Mepham.
Gillette, Becky. “Doin’ a body good?; studies linking rBGH-produced milk and increased cancer risk.” E Sept-Oct. 1998.
Glimm, D.R. et. al. “Effect of bovine somatotropin on the distribution of immunoreactive insulin like growth factor-1 in lactating bovine mammary tissue.” J. Dairy Sci.1988: 71: 2923-2935.
Hardin, Pete. “IGF-1 in rBGH-milk linked to Increased Human “Twinning”. The Milkweed Dairy’s best marketing info and insights. Issue No. 323, June 2006.
Sayre, Laura. “Protecting milk from Monsanto”. Mother Earth News. June-July 2008: 27. Popular Magazines. Web 11.
Resource: Orginal Title, “Bilk the Milk,” Author, Essay Written by Ronald M. Murray, 17 May 2010. 2010 Copyright, All rights reserved. Author Approved 24 Oct 2010 @ Mirror Athlete Corp., publishing: Sign up for your free eNewsletter subscription at Mirror Athlete .