March 1, 2008

In The News: Frankenmilk

Scandal is a-brewin' in Ohio and Utah.

Ohio has decided to go against the Food & Drug Administration policy on synthetic hormone label claims and mandate that dairy products sold in that state cannot mention being synthetic-hormone free.

Utah, meanwhile, is looking into similar restrictions.

Both of these policies concern rBGH -- recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin -- an artificial form of naturally-occuring bovine growth hormone.

This synthetic compound is injected into dairy cows to significantly increase milk production.

It's equivalent to an alien race coming down to Earth, enslaving humans, and injecting men with an ultra powerful dose of synthetic testosterone in order for them to lift heavier weights and work harder.

It is a purely business and money-motivated decision. The more milk you have, the more you can sell, and the more money that goes into your pocket.

The Food & Drug Administration approved rBGH (it was declared "safe for use") in 1993.

Agrobusiness giant Monsanto immediately began producing and selling it by the bucketloads.

Controversy has always surrounded rBGH, mainly because several medical trials have linked it to a higher risk of developing certain tumors and cancers.

Monsanto and rBGH gained notoriety in the mid 90's after a Tampa Fox affiliate pulled a story on the possible health dangers of rBGH consumption after much pressure from Monsanto.

And it's not just humans who can be negatively affected.

Cows receiving rBGH injections often get sick (cows treated with rBGH have significantly higher risks of developing udder infections than those not treated with the drug).

In turn, they are fed antibiotics -- another undesirable component in milk.

It is not surprising, then, that rBGH is banned from all dairy products in Europe and Canada.

It frustrates me that consumers in some states are being forbidden the right to know what is in some of the foods they buy.

I never agreed with the use of rBGH but thought that if it is included in any product, we should be made aware of its presence.

What's most interesting about this whole story is that the FDA is in a unique position. They permit the use of rBGH in milk, but only if there is full disclosure.

Honesty policy or good old ass covering?

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