Well, I didn’t touch upon milk in my new book, Hadean. But I thought this was fascinating. The information is a bit dated at least where I live as most milk is tagged as being free of rbGH.
If you’re a label reader, you’ve probably noticed a tag about rbGH free on your milk. I noticed it and didn’t really have a clue as to what it really meant.
rbGH is recombinant bovine growth hormone (It can also go by the name BST-bovine somatotropin). It is genetically engineered (think GMO). It is injected into dairy cows to produce more milk.
Sounds good, right?
But there are side effects that vets have noticed in the cows: udder infections called mastitis, increased risk of lameness and infertility. In some cases, farmers risked having to destroy 1/4 of their herds. (Canadian Broadcasting Corp, 1999) Yet, the payoff for using the hormone in cows is only a 10-15% increase in the production of milk.
Okay, humans aren’t cows, and some among you could care less. So what are the human implications.
The FDA had to raise the amounts of antibiotics allowed in milk to 1 part per million. Originally, the FDA considered the safe amount of antibiotics to be 1 part per 100 million. That’s a pretty large increase. And considering the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, isn’t this a dangerous policy?
Still not convinced?
Okay, lets move onto IGF-1. That’s insulin-like growth hormone, and just like the name implies it is just like that insulin, you know the one associated with diabetes. While the makers of rbGH have stated that the level of IGF-1 remains unchanged (Robert J Collier & others in a letter to the editor of Lancet, vol 344, p 816), the FDA admits that there is an in increase in the concentration of IGF-1. Some studies have put this difference from doubling to a 71% increase; others funded in part have put it as not substantial. IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization.
So what are the implications?
Elevated levels in the bloodstream have been linked with cancer-breast and prostrate. In 1999, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute associated it with lung cancer.
Initially, the makers of the hormone sued any dairy that labeled their products as free of this hormone. They pushed to have a label that said there is no significant difference in the milk.
I’m not willing to give up milk, cheese, or that gift from heaven, ice cream. But I’m looking for products without the hormone.
IN 1991, the American Medical Association called for more studies to be conducted. None have been, at least none without some influence by those with a vested interest in the hormone.
Most nations in the EU have banned its use. So has Canada.
I leave it up to you to judge for yourself.
Here’s an interesting article for those who want more information: http://americannutritionassociation.org/toolsandresources/milk-americaâ€™s-health-problem