Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Not your Mother’s milk

Is this issue really less important to America’s children than the possibility of a flag being burned in protest, or the ability of someone in the family filing bankruptcy because they are suddenly subjected to emergency medical treatment that debilitates them financially?


For over 10 years, bovine growth hormone, or rBGH, has been a staple in the dairy products consumed by Americans. Since these products are not labeled as containing rBGH, most consumers have no idea that a growth hormone intended to induce dairy cows to be more productive is in much of their milk, cheese, and yogurt.

After approving the use of rBGH in 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of consumers, food safety organizations and scientists to reverse its approval of the hormone, or to simply require labeling of foods containing rBGH. Even a legal challenge by CFS could not force FDA to reexamine the health threats of rBGH. The FDA's decision stood despite regulatory bodies in both Canada and Europe rejecting the hormone due to numerous animal and human health concerns.

In cows treated with rBGH, significant health problems often develop, including a 50 percent increase in the risk of lameness (leg and hoof problems), over a 25 percent increase in the frequency of udder infections (mastitis), and serious animal reproductive problems, i.e., infertility, cystic ovaries, fetal loss and birth defects.

Because rBGH use results in more cases of mastitis, dairy farmers tend to use more antibiotics to combat the infections, the residues of which also may end up in milk and dairy products. These residues can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals and contribute to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, further undermining the efficacy of some antibiotics in fighting human infections.

Furthermore, recent research has shown conclusively that the levels of a hormone called "insulin-like growth factor-1" (IFG-1) are elevated in dairy products produced from cows treated with rBGH. Canadian and European regulators have found that the FDA completely failed to consider a study that showed how the increased IGF-1 in rBGH milk could survive digestion and make its way into the intestines and blood stream of consumers. These findings are significant because numerous studies now demonstrate that IGF-1 is an important factor in the growth of cancers of the breast, prostate and colon.

CFS seeks to force the FDA to remove rBGH from the market through all available legal means. In 1999, CFS, joined by a number of other organizations, filed a legal petition with the FDA requesting that it remove from the market Monsanto's rBGH (trade name Posilac). In late 2000, the FDA announced that it was denying that petition. CFS will continue applying legal pressure on this important food safety issue.


Mr. Natural said...

Oh but corporate profits and shareholder dividends above all! BOW TO THE DOW!

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