I was recently invited to lead a class at a local church as part of a series of workshops on consumerism. I chose to discuss some of the issues surrounding the health and safety of our food, how agriculture affects our environment, and, in particular, the effects of rBGH use in dairy cows. I realized this is an issue I just HAD to blog about! There is so much to this discussion, but here's the gist of it:
BGH, or Bovine Growth Hormone, is a naturally-occurring hormone in female cows, responsible for the production of milk. In the 1930s, it was discovered that injecting cows with additional BGH would stimulate prolonged milk production, resulting in a 10-15% overall increase. At that time, BGH was extracted from bovine cadavers, and was thus a natural hormone.
About 15 years ago or so, Monsanto started creating an artificial BGH, using genetically engineered e. coli. The result was recombinant BGH, or rBGH, with the "r" indicated that this is NOT a naturally-occurring hormone, but rather a genetically engineered one.
In 1994, this rBGH was marketed to dairy farmers as the "ultimate" answer to maximizing profit. It was welomed with open arms, and was administered to millions of cows. In fact, it still is. Despite inadequate testing for human safety, despite causing medical problems in cows administered rBGH, and despite the fact that we are, and have been for quite some time, in a state of over-production of milk that is driving the price down for dairy farmers (and therefore do not need to be artificially stimulating more production). So how on earth did rBGH become so widespread?
The most testing that was done for human safety involved 90 days of exposure to lab rats! And it was with this testing in hand that the FDA signed approval for rBGH without a second thought (this is a testament to how powerful Monsanto is). rBGH is banned in most other industrial countries, including the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, with harm to animal welfare being cited as the main cause (rBGH causes increased incidence of mastitis, lameness, and other painful health problems). Huh??? Are we the only ones who care so little about the health and well-being of the animals we mass breed for food production? Additionally, though rBGH itself has not been definitively linked to health problems in humans, cows given this artificial hormone have increased levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), which HAS been preliminarily linked to cancer in humans.
Additionally, we are just starting to understand that rBGH, because it is not exactly the same as BGH, with a one amino acid chain difference, can cause immune hypersensitivity in some people, resulting in severe auto-immune, or allergic, responses. In fact, this issue is being researched as a possible outcome of eating ANY genetically-modified foods: because they are not exactly identical to natural forms, sometimes our bodies don't recognize them, and treat these molecules as "foreign invaders", creating an allergic response. We are seeing a huge increase in allergies in children, and this is one possibility that we need to look at more closely...
But the issue with rBGH goes even deeper. When some small, independent dairies started promoting their milk as "rBGH-free", Monsanto actually backed some of its dairy customers in a lawsuit, stated that "hormone-free" was mislabeling. And they won!! And so we now find that some milk and cheese, in certain states, has to add a disclaimer that "no significant difference has been found between milk made from cows given rBGH and those not given rBGH"- and as a result, many dairies choose not to add the label at all. Huh???? Monsanto somehow won the right to keep us from knowing that cows were raised naturally, organically, because that was "mislableing"???
I start to get infuriated at the whole situation, and then I remember who we are talking about. Monsanto. Global terrorist. Their list of laurels includes Agent Orange (and by the way, Monsanto NEVER paid out one penny to vets who sued them for permanent damage, deformities in their children, cancer, and the like), Round-Up, a majority of all genetically-engineered plant patents, NutraSweet, and rBGH. Their website claims they "help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment." And they use the words "growing yield sustainably" as their motto. What a bunch of &*%@!
So the whole rBGH issue, with the recent public outcry, has resulted in Monsanto selling off rBGH, announced a few weeks ago. Go figure. Too much trouble to keep hiding the truth from the public. Why Eli Lilly has paid $300 million for the rights to the rBGH label "Posilac", I'll never know. It's amazing how much money there is to be made by damaging the planet, its animals, and its people.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Want to know more about Monsanto's crimes against the planet and help stop their gloabl terrorism, as it has frequently been called? Check out the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign for every dirty little thing you wanted to know, and an important petition that you should sign.
Check out the Food and Water Watch's article "rBGH: Anything but Green".
BTW, there are a number of major chains that have, under public pressure, recently refused to sell rBGH milk, including Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and Chipotle, to name a few. If you shop/dine at those stores, be sure to tell the store manager how happy you are that they are supplying rBGH-free milk! And be sure to sign this petition, thanking ALL of the declared rBGH-free stores across the nation.