Monday, January 31, 2011

Milk With rBGH, Does It Do Your Body Good?

If you like to drink milk, eat ice cream, yogurt, and cheese you have got to read this post!   We give our children milk and milk products because it is good for them and high in  calcium which leads to strong healthy bones.  Milk is plain old wholesome goodness.  Right?  Well, now that Monsanto has entered the picture with rBGH Milk, not so much. 

Monsanto has been so successful at lobbying Congress that many of us don't even know about the addition of the hormone rBGH to the milk we are drinking and serving to our precious little people.

But just what is rBGH?  Well, it is a synthetic hormone called Bovine Growth Hormone, or the scientific name (rbST) Bovine Somatotropin.  More Info On rBGH  For the sake of this post I'll be talking about Monsanto's rBGH called Posilac.  Just FYI, Monsanto sold Polisac and Eli Lily is now the proud owner.  What is the purpose of rBGH?  The synthetic hormone is injected into the dairy cow and causes the cow to produce as much as 10% more milk over a year.  What is the problem?  It sounds like a great idea to produce the maximum amount of milk per cow.  Right? Not so fast.  There are unintended consequences!

There are quite a few problems.  First, we'll look at the problems it poses for the cows.  Eli Lily's drug description of Posilac, rBST.  Precautions and side effects: "Mastitis. Cows Injected With Posilac Are At An Increased Risk For Mastitis (visibly Abnormal Milk) And May Have Higher Milk Somatic Cell Counts.”
General Health. Cows injected with POSILAC may require more therapeutic drug treatment for mastitis and other health problems." The web site also stated that cows receiving Posilac have increased temperature, reduced fertility, and hoof problems.  Basically they can become lame more easily.  Posilac Drug Info

That is sad and all but how does it affect us?  Let's talk about higher somatic cell counts in milk from cows that had mastitis.  "Higher somatic cell counts" basically means that pus and bacteria are in the milk.  The bacteria may be killed in pasteurization, but the pus remains.  A federal court in Ohio overturned a state law that prevented labeling milk either "rBGH free" or "contains rBGH."  The court found that there was a substantial difference between the milks.  "The court's decision notes that those higher somatic cell counts 'make the milk turn sour more quickly and is another indicator of poor milk quality.'"  source  Here is the citation to the case if you are interested in looking it up.  International Dairy Foods Ass'n v. Boggs, 622 F. 3d 628 (2010).

Then there is the matter of treating the mastitis.  Antibiotics.  The FDA currently tests for only 4 antibiotics in milk.  FDA.Gov Site  I found a site that claimed there were currently 82 antibiotics that are approved for use.  The site also stated that a 1989 Wall Street Journal article did a study on milk residue and found that 20% of the antibiotics found in the milk were illegal antibiotics.  I could not find my own independent verification so I am not sure of the validity.  The point is there is a high possibility of antibiotic residue making it to the milk and then into our bodies. Huh, ever heard of antibiotic resistance? That is troubling!  

Besides synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and pus, there is one last issue. This one is the most concerning of all.  The hormone IGF-1.  This hormone is naturally occurring in both humans and cows and it stimulates growth in infants.  The presences of rBGH triggers a high increase of the hormone IGF-1.  "When cow's milk is consumed by human non-infants, it behaves as a cancer-accelerator.  IGF-1 is not destroyed in the pasteurization process nor during human digestion and is therefore biologically active in humans, being associated with breast, prostate, and colon cancers.”  Source Site   

But do not fear.  Monsanto and Eli Lily say that "Posilac (rbST) is approved by numerous regulatory authorities worldwide to help dairy farmers improve milk productivity. BST (bovine somatotropin) is a natural protein produced in all cattle, helping adult cows produce milk. Milk from cows receiving Posilac is unchanged from milk from cows not receiving this supplement."  Yes, you read that right.  Boy, are they betting on an uninformed customer.  

Milk. It does a body good, if it doesn't contain rBGH!  

Be sure to check back tomorrow!  I am going to post about companies that have pledged to produce milk that is rBGH free.  There are options!