First off, the growth hormones given to dairy cows and beef cattle are different. In dairy cows, the controversy centers around recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a synthetic version of a hormone cows produce naturally. (It’s also sometimes called rBST, for recombinant bovine somatotropin.) For beef cattle it's steroids, where it all leads is to sick cows and more polluted meat from massive doses of anti-biotics. Beef cattle producers administer a variety of steroid hormones, including natural and synthetic versions of estrogen and testosterone, to make animals grow faster, convert their food into muscle more efficiently and make their meat leaner. "Pure Food" advocates, like myself fear that residues of added hormones in meat could disrupt normal hormone function in humans, especially developing children, potentially increasing the risk of problems such as reproductive abnormalities. Synthetic hormones in milk lead to increased levels of a growth factor, known as insulin-dependent growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in both milk and milk products, and meat as well.
First let me say if you haven't realized it by now: no one is going to look out for you and your families nutritional well being. It's your responsibility, You, Not the Farmers, Not the Government, you decide what ultimately ends up on your dinner table so choose wisely. I'll attempt to explore the topics to help you ask the right questions, and elect congressmen and women who are on the right side of these issues, and hold them accountable, deal?
So that brings us back to, rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone. According to the organic consumers assoc. rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) is a genetically engineered, potent variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Manufactured by Monsanto, it is sold to dairy farmers under the trade name POSILAC. Injection of this hormone forces cows to increase their milk production by about 10%. Monsanto has stated that "about one third of dairy cows, are in herds where the hormone is used". Monsanto, supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insist that rBGH milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is safe for consumers. This is blatantly false, rBGH makes cows sick. Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis, on its Posilac label. rBGH milk ihas been shown to be contaminated by pus, due to the mastitis commonly induced by rBGH, and antibiotics used to treat the mastitis. Also, rBGH milk is chemically, and nutritionally different than natural milk. Milk from cows injected with rBGH is contaminated with the hormone, traces of which are absorbed through the human gut into the blood. So, rBGH milk is supercharged, with high levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut. So, excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as a cause of breast, colon, and prostate cancers, because IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms against early submicroscopic cancers. Based on 37 published scientific studies as detailed in Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, (professor emeritus of environmental medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and world renowned author), in his book What's in Your Milk?, "excess levels of IGF-1 in rBGH milk pose major risks of breast, colon and prostate cancers."
A little history, In 1937, the administration of BST was shown to increase the milk yield in lactating cows by preventing mammary cell death in dairy cattle. Until the 1980s, there was very limited use of the compound in agriculture as the sole source of the hormone was from bovine cadavers. During this time, the knowledge of the structure and function of the hormone increased. WIth the advent of biotechnology, one of the pioneering biotech companies, Genentech succeeded in cloning the gene for BST. Monsanto had working along the same lines and struck a deal with Genentech in 1979 to license Genentech's patents and collaborate on development of a recombinant version of BST – a process on which Monsanto would invest $300 million. The two companies used genetic engineering to clone the rBST gene into E. coli. The bacteria are grown in bioreactors, then broken up and separated from the rBST, which is purified to produce the injectable hormone. FDA approved Monsanto's application in 1993. Monsanto launched rBST, brand-named Posilac, in 1994.
A 2007 USDA Dairy Survey estimated rBGH use at 15.2% of operations and 17.2% of cows.
Here are some companies you can trust when it comes to rGBH, in response to concerns from consumers and advocacy groups about milk from cows treated with rBST, some dairies, retailers, and restaurants have published policies on use of rBST in production of milk products they sell, while others offer some products or product lines that are labelled "rBST free".
- Costco has no overall rBST policy, but sells brands, such as "Kirkland", with labels pledging that no rBST was used in milk production.
- Wal-Mart announced in March 2008 that its private label Great Value milk will be "sourced exclusively from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones like recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST)"
- Kroger announced "it will complete the transition of milk it processes and sells in its stores to a certified rBST-free supply by February 2008."
- Dean Foods has no overall rBST policy, but has brands, such as "Oak Farms", with labels pledging that no rBST was used in milk production.
- Winder Farms, a home delivery dairy and grocer in Utah and Nevada, sells milk from rBST-free cows.
- Guernsey Farms, a dairy farm and distributor located in Northville, Michigan sells and distributes rBST-free dairy products in Southeastern Michigan. Its milk has been labeled rBST free for a number of years.
- Safeway in the northwestern United States stopped buying from dairy farmers that use rBST in January 2007. The two Safeway plants produce milk for all Safeway stores in Oregon, Southwest Washington, and parts of northern California. Safeway's plant in San Leandro, California had already been rBST-free for two years.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill announced in June 2012 that it will serve rBST-free sour cream at its restaurants.
- Publix, a supermarket chain, states on its website: "Publix milk is rbST-free. (No added artificial hormones.) However, the FDA has stated that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows"
- Braum's, a dairy and ice cream retailer in the midwest with a private herd, says on its website that it does not administer rBST to its cows.
- Starbucks website, as of August 2012, has no statement about use of milk from cows treated with rBST. For example, its Animal Welfare policy is silent on the issue. However it announced in January 2008 that it would no longer sell milk from cows treated with rBST in its stores in the US. The Organic Consumers Association, an advocacy group, claimed that Starbucks' change was due to their advocacy work.
- Ben & Jerry's ice cream uses milk and cream from dairy farms that have pledged not to use rBST.
- Tillamook County Creamery Association, a co-operative made up of 110 dairy farms, indicates on its website that its cows are not treated with hormones.
Please patronize these companies because when it comes to food additives they care about your health.
The Center For Food Safety states:
Operations using rBGH do so with little regard for the cows or the humans that eventually eat them, the beef industry pumps growth hormones into upwards of 80% of beef cattle raised in the U.S. each year. These hormones are intended to boost growth rates and increase body mass–think cows on steroids. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow producers to treat chickens or pigs with hormones, the agency does permit the practice for cattle and sheep.
rBGH factory farms also pose a major threat to the viability of small dairy farms. rBGH enriches Monsanto, while posing dangers, without any benefits, to consumers, especially in view of the current national surplus of milk. So once again we see mega factory farm organizations like Monsanto lines its pockets with gold on the misery of unsuspecting consumers who believe that someone is looking out for them and their nutritional health interest's.
These are organically raised cows. Do they look distressed? Now if you'd rather consume hormone-free dairy or meat products, look for organic options. U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for products labeled organic require that animals not be treated with either growth hormones or antibiotics, products bearing a USDA Organic seal are in compliance with these rules. On non-organic foods, look for the right words. Check the packaging or label for no added hormones or from cows not treated with rBGH. Don't assume that other wholesome-sounding terms, such as natural or free range, mean that the food comes from animals that weren't given growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. Good Luck...
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