rBGH is a genetically engineered artificial
hormone injected into dairy cows to make
them produce more milk. Despite opposition from scientists, farmers
and consumers, the US currently allows dairy
cows to be injected with recombinant bovine
growth hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant
bovine somatotropin (rBST). Originally manufactured by the Monsanto Corporation,
this genetically engineered hormone forces
cows to artificially increase milk production
by 10 to 15 percent. Today, controversy over
safety still surrounds the use of rBGH.
Somatotropin is a naturally occurring hormone
produced in the pituitary gland of animals;
bovine somatotropin (BST) triggers nutrients
to increase growth in young cattle and lactation
(milk production) in dairy cows. Artificial
BST is produced using recombinant DNA technology
(biotechnology), and called rBST for short.
rBST is commonly known as Bovine Growth Hormone
or rBGH. When injected into cows, rBGH increases
milk production 10 to 15 percent. One government
study from 2007 estimated that approximately
17 percent of all cows in the US were given
this artificial growth hormone.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
approved rBGH in 1993, despite criticism
that the effects of rBGH were never properly
assessed. The FDA’s approval was based
solely on one study administered by Monsanto
in which rBGH was tested for 90 days on 30
rats. Although the FDA stated that the results
showed no significant problems, the study
was never actually published.
The FDA continues to assure consumers that
rBGH is safe for cows and humans, despite
evidence to the contrary. In 1994, the FDA
prohibited dairies from claiming there is
any difference between milk from rBGH-injected
cows and milk produced without the artificial
In 1998, an assessment by Health Canada determined
that the results of Monsanto’s 90-day
study provided reason for review before approval
of rBGH. Today, the European Union, Japan , Australia, New Zealand and Canada do not allow the use of rBGH due to animal
and human health concerns.
Animal and Human Risks
A 1991 report by Rural Vermont, a nonprofit
farm advocacy group, revealed that rBGH-injected
cows that were part of a Monsanto-financed
study at the University of Vermont suffered
serious health problems, including an alarming
rise in the number of deformed calves and
dramatic increases in mastitis, a painful
bacterial infection of the udder, which causes
inflammation, swelling, and pus and blood secretions into
milk. These findings are supported by Health Canada’s
1998 report, which concluded that the use
of rBGH increases the risk of mastitis by
25 percent, affects reproductive functions,
increases the risk of clinical lameness by
50 percent, and shortens the lives of cows.
To treat mastitis outbreaks, the dairy industry
relies on antibiotics. GCritics of rBGH point to the subsequent increase
in antibiotic use (which contributes to the
growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria)
and inadequacies in the federal government’s
testing program for antibiotic residues in
Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains higher
levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1).
While humans naturally have IGF-1, elevated
levels in humans have been linked to colon
and breast cancer. Although no direct connection
has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels
in milk and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer
in humans, some scientists have expressed
concern over the possibility of this relationship.
On the Offense
While the FDA was lax in its review of rBGH,
Monsanto aggressively attempted to suppress
reports about the health risks involved in
the use of the drug. In 2001, Jane Akre and
Steve Wilson, two respected investigative
journalists at a Fox News television station
in Tampa, Florida, were fired after months
of controversy surrounding their investigative
report on rBGH use in Florida dairies. According
to the journalists, the station delayed airing
their story and demanded they include inaccurate
information about rBGH after Monsanto threatened
the station with legal action.
In 2003, Monsanto asked the state of Maine
to stop issuing an official Quality Seal,
which the state only granted to dairies that
do not use rBGH. Maine refused. Later that
year, Monsanto sued Oakhurst Dairy, Maine’s
largest dairy operation, over its rBGH-free
labels. Ultimately, Oakhurst changed its
labels, adding the statement, "FDA States:
No significant difference in milk from cows
treated with artificial growth hormone."
Nonetheless, Monsanto lobbied the Canadian
government to win rBGH approval. Dr. Margaret
Hayden, a Health Canada researcher, reported
to the Canadian Senate that officials from
Monsanto had offered between $1 million to
$2 million to Health Canada scientists—an
offer she says could only be understood as
an attempted bribe.
The Revolving Door
Given the potential danger to the milk-drinking
public and the proven danger to cows, critics
argue that the FDA’s approval of rBGH
was the result of pressure placed on the
agency by Monsanto and its powerful lobbyists.
Dr. Richard Burroughs, a senior FDA scientist
overseeing the rBGH safety studies, claims
he was fired because his concerns about the
safety of rBGH delayed the approval process.
Critics also note the existence of a "revolving
door" between the FDA and Monsanto.
For example, Michael Taylor, the FDA official
responsible for writing the labeling guidelines,
had worked as a Monsanto lawyer before joining
the FDA. Likewise, the deputy director of
the FDA’s New Animal Drugs Office had
been a Monsanto research scientist working
on rBGH safety studies, while another researcher
in the same office had conducted Monsanto-funded
rBGH research at Cornell University, working
under a paid Monsanto consultant. Congress'
General Accounting Office ruled in 1994 that
none of these cases of longstanding connections
to Monsanto posed a conflict of interest.
In the News Today
Despite the efforts of Monsanto and the dairy
industry to promote rBGH, farmers, the public
has largely rejected the artificial hormone.
In response to growing consumer concern,
some dairies label their milk as "rBGH-free"
or "No artificial growth hormones."
In attempt to make these labeling practices
illegal, a pseudo "grassroots"
nonprofit called American Farmers for the
Advancement and Conservation of Technology
(AFACT) was formed in February 2008. Created by a public relations firm founded
by two ex-Monsanto employees, AFACT received
funding from Monsanto before it was dissolved
The fight over milk labels took place across
the US; attempts to ban rBGH-free labeling
- Pennsylvania: In October 2007, the Pennsylvania
Department of Agriculture outlawed hormone-free
labeling, claiming the labels are "false"
and "misleading" to consumers.
In reaction to public outcry, Governor Ed
Rendell allowed hormone-free labeling to
be reinstated in January 2008.
- Ohio: In February 2008, Ohio Agriculture
Director, Robert Boggs, approved the use
of rBGH-free labeling only if the FDA’s
disclaimer, "no significant difference
has been shown between milk derived from
rBST-supplemented and non-rbST-supplemented
cows," was also included, in a way that
made labeling virtually impossible. However, in October 2010 a federal court
overturned the rBGH labeling rule: the Court
of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stated that
there is a "compositional difference"
between milk from cows receiving growth hormone
and those that don’t, and ruled that
companies are free to label their products
as "rBGH free" and "rBST free."
- Indiana: In 2008, the Indiana legislature
considered a bill to make artificial hormone-free
labeling illegal, claiming milk would be
"misbranded" if "compositional
claims cannot be confirmed through laboratory
analysis."#FN_3128 The bill did not
pass the legislature.
- Kansas: In 2009, the Kansas legislature passed
a bill that deemed any milk, milk product
or dairy product label with a statement related
to milk composition including "No Hormones,"
"Hormone Free," "rBST Free,"
"rBGH Free," and "BST Free"
as false and misleading. Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill.
Similar labeling controversies took place
in Missouri, New Jersey, Utah and Vermont,
but ultimately, no state made it illegal
to label milk or dairy products as rBGH-free.
Despite industry efforts to keep consumers
in the dark, food producers and suppliers
have been listening to consumer concerns.
In 2007, United States grocery chains Kroger and Safeway prohibited 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 prohibited rBGH use in their store-brand
milk products. In August 2008, Monsanto sold
the division of the corporation that produces
rBGH to Eli Lilly.
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and apply to lip. Keep the solution in contact
with the sore for 5-20 min. or more, the
longer the better. Repeat two or three times
per day. It is most effective at the first
sign of a cold sore. Under these conditions,
the cold sore may never get to the blister
stage, but often disappears in one to three
days...." ... see this below ...
"In a 1989 letter to the FDA, I warned that the effects of IGF-1 "could include premature growth stimulation in infants, [breast enlargement] in young children and breast cancer in adult females." More recently, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated: "Further studies will be required to determine whether the ingestion of higher than normal concentrations of bovine insulin-like growth factor is safe for children, adolescents and adults." (AMA, 1991)..." see this below ...