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Health Effects From Cows Treated With Growth Hormones

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"rBGH Is A Genetically Engineered..."


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.

What is rBGH (and rbST)?

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.  F

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 hormone.  F

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.  F FToday, the European Union,  FJapan  F, Australia,  FNew Zealand  Fand Canada  Fdo 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,  Fswelling, and pus and blood secretions into milk.  FThese 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.  F

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.  F


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.  F

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.  F


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."  F


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.  F

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.  F

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.  F

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.  FCreated by a public relations firm founded by two ex-Monsanto employees, AFACT received funding from Monsanto before it was dissolved in 2011.  F F
The fight over milk labels took place across the US; attempts to ban rBGH-free labeling occurred in:

  • Pennsylvania: In October 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture outlawed hormone-free labeling, claiming the labels are "false" and "misleading" to consumers.  FIn reaction to public outcry, Governor Ed Rendell allowed hormone-free labeling to be reinstated in January 2008.  F
  • 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.  FHowever, 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."  F
  • 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.  FGovernor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill.  F

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  Fand Safeway  Fprohibited the use of rBGH-treated milk in their store-branded dairy products. In January 2008, Starbucks  Fstopped using rBGH-treated milk, and in March 2008, WalMart  Fprohibited rBGH use in their store-brand milk products. In August 2008, Monsanto sold the division of the corporation that produces rBGH to Eli Lilly.  F


(Please click through the heading to this full text and source)





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"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 ...




"Given the potential health impacts of consumption of milk and other dairy products derived from rBGH treated cows, all such products at a minimum be labeled so that consumers are aware of what they are purchasing and consuming. "
(read the text below)


FDA allows Genetically-Modified rBGH to Endanger Milk

Growth Hormones Would Endanger Milk


Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1989


FDA Ignores Evidence on Cancer Risks



With the Food and Drug Administration ready to approve the use of genetically engineered growth hormones in cows to boost milk production, concerns are mounting among dairy farmers, state legislatures, animal-rights activists and consumer and public-interest groups.

These hormones, known as rBGH, are manufactured by chemical companies - Monsanto, American Cyanamid, Upjohn and Eli Lilly together with Dow - who anticipate $500-million annual worldwide sales.


Their promotional hype claims that the hormones are natural," that they are not found in milk, that they increase milk yields up to 25%, that they do not harm cows, that they do not alter milk quality and that they are safe for humans. The FDA also agrees that bovine growth hormones are safe and have allowed the sale of unlabeled milk and meat from rBGH cows for about five years. These claims, which are based on industry-contracted research at more than 20 U.S. university dairy science departments, are misleading in the extreme.


Apart from the national surplus of milk and anticipated foreclosure of thousands of small dairy farms if milk production is increased and milk prices reduced, the effectiveness of bovine growth hormones is exaggerated. Furthermore, the nutritional quality of milk and cheese is altered; fat is increased and casein decreased. Stress effects have been noted in cows hyper-stimulated by rBGH. These include increased susceptibility to infection, infertility, loss of fat, heat intolerance and "burnout" or lactational failure; severe stress diseases including gastric ulcers, arthritis and kidney and heart abnormalities have also been induced in pigs. Additionally, bovine growth hormones are likely to be misused as a growth promoter in calves, pigs and sheep, particularly as there are no practical methods for detecting the hormone in meat, and in view of the abusive track record of the meat industry regarding hormonal and other feed additives.


Apart from economic and veterinary concerns, bovine growth hormones pose grave consumer health risks that have not been investigated by the industry or FDA.

-Bovine growth hormones are not "natural." The FDA now admits that they are up to "3% different in molecular structure" from the normal hormone. Increased rBGH levels in milk and blood have been found in injected cows. rBGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.


-Increased levels of cell-stimulating growth factors, apparently identical to those in humans, have been reported in rBGH milk. These could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.

-Increased bacterial infections in rBGH cows will require treatment with antibiotics that will pass into milk. This is likely to result in antibiotic-resistant infections in the general population. Also, the stress effects of bovine growth hormones in cows could suppress immunity and activate latent viruses, such as bovine leukemia (Leukosis) and bovine immunodeficiency viruses, which are related to the AIDS complex and may be infectious to humans.

-Steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals induced in cows by these hormones are likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.

-The fat and milk of cows are already contaminated with a wide range of carcinogenic contaminants, including dioxins and pesticides. Bovine growth hormones reduce body fat and are likely to mobilize these carcinogens into milk, with cancer risks to consumers.


What is to be done? State legislatures should be pressured to ban rBGH. The FDA should be petitioned to ban the manufacture, domestic sale and export of the hormones until all safety questions can be resolved. Congressional oversight should focus on industry's misleading and self-interested claims on rBGH, and the FDA's regulatory abdication. Finally, consumers should recognize these hormones as industry's latest unsafe contribution to the brave new world of chemicalized food and mechanized farming.



Statement by the Cancer Prevention Coalition on IGF-1 and Breast and Colon Cancer


January 23, 1996

The FDA has ignored the wide range of converging evidence that associates increased consumption of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF- 1), which increases in milk from rBGH treated cows, with a potential risk of breast and other types of cancer.

Published research shows that rBGH use on dairy cows induces a marked and sustained increase in levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1, in cow’s milk. This is admitted by FDA (Juskevich & Guyer, 1990), and more explicitly by others (Prosser 1988; Prosser 1989; Mepham, 1992). A recent admission by another manufacturer of rBGH (Eli Lilly & Co.) reports a ten fold increase in IGF-1 levels. Furthermore, there is suggestive evidence that IGF- 1 in rBGH milk is more bioactive than in non-hormonal milk (Mepham, 1992).


IGF-1 regulates cell growth, division and differentiation, particularly in children. Human and normal bovine IGF-1 are identical, they are largely bound in protein and thus probably less biologically active than unbound IGF1 in rBGH derived milk.

IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization. In fact this process substantially increases IGF-1 levels in milk. (Juskevich and Guyer, 1990). Nor is IGF-1 destroyed by digestion. Moreover, FDA admits that IGF-1 is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall (Juskevich & Guyer, 1990); this was also previously admitted by Monsanto in 1987. Further confirmation is also provided by other authorities (e.g. Mepham, 1992). Additionally, recent research indicates that IGF-1 can be absorbed into the bloodstream where it can effect other hormones. (Donovan and Odle, 1994)


FDA and other industry sources have not published any detailed studies on the oral toxicity of IGF-1 Rather, they have consistently refused to make available their findings and raw data. A highly condensed summary of an IGF- 1 Monsanto short term test in mature rats was released by FDA (Juskevich & Guyer, 1990). The agency alleges that this study confirms IGF- 1's "lack of oral activity." At the outset it should be noted that the Monsanto test was contracted out to Hazelton Laboratories, which has a two decade history of misrepresentation of scientific data. (Epstein, 1978). However, even the cited Monsanto/Hazelton data explicitly reveal statistically significant evidence of growth promoting effects. Feeding relatively low doses of IGF-1 to mature rats for only two weeks resulted in statistically significant and biologically highly significant systemic effects: increased body weight; increased liver weight; increased bone length; and decreased epiphyseal width. These results are confirmatory of prior theoretical predictions.


The FDA has completely failed to investigate the effects of long-term feeding of IGF- 1 and treated milk on growth, or on more sensitive sub-cellular effects, in infant rats or infants of any other species.


Significantly, cows injected with rBGH show heavy localization of IGF-l in breast (udder) epithelial cells; this does not occur in untreated cows. (Furlanetto, et al, 1984; Gregor, et al, 1985; Campbell, et al, 1986.) IGF-1 induces rapid division and multiplication of normal human breast epithelial cells in tissue cultures. It is highly likely that IGF- 1 promotes transformation of normal breast epithelium to breast cancers. (Furlanetto, et al, 1984; Harris, et al, 1992, growth factors such as IGF-1 "are responsible at least in part for the evolution of normal breast epithelia to breast cancer...'). Moreover, IGF-1 maintains the malignancy of human breast cancer cells, including their invasiveness and ability to spread to distant organs. (Lippman, 1991, 1993). IGF-l has been similarly associated with colon cancer (Tricolo, et al, 1986).


The undifferentiated pre-natal and infant breast is particularly susceptible to hormonal influences. (Ekbom, et al. 1992) Such imprinting by IGF-1 may increase future breast cancer risks, and may also increase the sensitivity of the breast to subsequent unrelated risks such as mammography and the carcinogenic and estrogen-like effects of pesticide residues in food, particularly in pre-menopausal women. (Elwood, et al, 1993).


Concerns about increased levels of IGF- 1 in milk from cows treated with rBGH are not new. In 1990, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus panel on rBGH expressed concerns on adverse health effects of IGF-1 in rBGH milk, calling for further study on the treated milk's impacts, especially on infants. (NIH, 1991). 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). Instead of further study, the FDA allowed for uncontrolled, unlabeled sales of treated milk to unwitting consumers.


Given the potential health impacts of consumption of milk and other dairy products derived from rBGH treated cows, all such products at a minimum be labeled so that consumers are aware of what they are purchasing and consuming. More prudently the FDA approval of rBGH should be withdrawn until the agency performs adequate long term testing on the impacts of increased levels of IGF- 1 in milk and other dairy products derived from rBGH treated cows.... (Please click through the heading to this full text and source)

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Effects of rBGH 'Bovine Growth Hormones on Humans


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(This article is below)


One year's record of my pH - goes from acidic to alkaline... Your Health And Tech Friend

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