Growth hormone scare is overblown

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I read with disappointment the announcement in The Augusta Chronicle recently by the Kroger Co. that they would no longer sell milk from cows that have been treated with rBST (a.k.a. recombinant bovine somatotropin, or growth hormone sold under the brand name Posilac). The reason stated was that customers of the grocery chain have preferred purchasing milk "free of hormones and antibiotics."

It is a shame that Kroger has caved in to pressure from the uniformed rather than educating the public on their concerns. rBST has long been manufactured in Augusta by the Monsanto Co., employing more than 200 of our neighbors. It is simply a cost-effective management tool already used on one-third of the entire U.S. dairy herd (an injection into the cow, not the milk) that allows small dairy farmers to compete with the corporate giants in producing milk in an economical manner. Do we want our milk prices to spiral even higher by taking away a safe product that can level the playing field?

THE RBST supplement safely allows underproducing cows to increase the amount of milk produced to levels near naturally high-producing cows -but only if their health, nutrition and care are optimal. It doesn't work on unhealthy or poorly cared-for cows.

The Food and Drug Administration has studied this drug more than any other animal drug to date. Its findings consistently show that milk from cows treated with rBST is identical with nontreated cows; the natural levels of BST are the same in treated or nontreated cows. Natural BST and rBST have no biological effects in humans, even when injected, much less consumed as a wholesome food, as has been the case for generations.

The FDA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture does not allow any antibiotics to be present in milk, and each tank from the dairy farm is tested for drug residues down to the parts-per-million level before it can be processed and sold. If any such substance is found then the entire bulk tank contents of milk are discarded, farmers are fined, and risk their livelihoods. Allowable "somatic cells" (indicators of infection) are a fraction of what was allowed in the 1950s and '60s.

THE AMERICAN Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the Inspector General of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the European Economic Community for Veterinary Medical Products, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association - to name a few organizations - have agreed that rBST treated cows produce the same milk as nontreated cows.

Let's let the dairymen and women care for their herds in the most humane and efficient manner possible, and not let fearmongering conspiracy theorists influence members of the public, who do not have the time to be educated on the facts of modern dairying.

(The writer is an Augusta veterinarian.)

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 05:31 am
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Global warming has great

Global warming has great testimonials too.

genbartow
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genbartow 08/12/07 - 08:21 am
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I do not understand how the

I do not understand how the hormone "helps" small dairy farmers compete with the large ones. The large dairy farmers use it also.
The effect of this hormone was to put alot of dairy farmers out of business.

girlygirl
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girlygirl 08/12/07 - 11:32 am
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Are Pat and I actually on the

Are Pat and I actually on the same page here? I don't believe that cows pumped FULL of UNNATURAL hormones are safe in any way. Were the USDA tests longitudinal, studying effects of the hormones for years after ingestion? I highly doubt it. There is a reason why my generation (I'm nearly 30) is fatter than my parents' generation. There is also a reason why kids today are so much fatter than people my age. There's a reason why sperm counts and teenage pregnancy rates are dropping (and no, it's not 'cause teens are having less sex). The hormones in milk are making us fat and they're damaging men's fertility, and probably women's too. .... My female cousin (25 years old) and I both became lactose intolerant about 5 years ago. I rarely drink milk, and when I do, it's lactaid or soy milk. I weigh the same I did in high school (my BMI is a healthy 22), and I do watch my diet, but not as much as many people who still drink regular milk and struggle with being overweight. My cousin, who was never overweight, has actually lost weight since she's been unable to drink milk or eat regular ice cream. The lab-created hormones are bad for cows, but they are worse for humans.

Jim Christian
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Jim Christian 08/12/07 - 12:47 pm
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I think the reason we're fat

I think the reason we're fat today is the fatty foods and lack of exercise. Note that whole milk and ice cream aren't exactly low-cal.

It's interesting that the same people that use science to form their opinions on matters such as global warming and evolution ignore the science behind biotech. We decry opponents of global warming and evolution for ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting them, but when it comes to biotechnology, it seems like all the science in the world isn't good enough.

hakkamacher
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hakkamacher 08/12/07 - 01:22 pm
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It's not just that there is

It's not just that there is more BST in the milk (10% does get by pasteurization), it's that you also get an increase in insulin growth factors in the milk - among other things that aren't obvious from the sound bite given above. Cows weren't "built" to make extra milk, and complications occur because of that. Mastitis (along with other things), which has to be treated with huge doses of antibiotics, along with generally being less healthy (more antibiotics).

About 50% of dairy cows have mastitis. Check out livestock supply catalogs online for the antibiotics to try to tame it, along with things to help with *lowering* pus content in milk production. You won't rush to the fridge afterwards.

The big thing for me, is *taste*; drink organic milk for a month, then go back and get the answer for yourself. Compare expiration dates. The organic milk lasts longer, tastes better.

Whether Monsanto likes it or not.

When you start thinking "gee, why does the "regular" milk start tasting bad the day after I get it, but the organic seems to taste the same day after day?" (not to mention it tastes the same from carton-to-carton) you might start thinking differently.

mrs_mac
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mrs_mac 08/15/07 - 01:32 pm
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Milk produced from cows

Milk produced from cows injected with rBST is EXACTLY the same as the milk from cows without the injection. The milk from an rBST cow is just as "organic" as any other milk. Get this straight. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN THE MILK! If you think there is, then it is your imagination. People can make themselves believe just about anything. The FDA and hard scientific fact has proven the milk is the same over and over again.

And as for getting fat, I agree with the guy who asked who said whole milk and ice cream was low in caleries? Any rich food that is over-endulged will make you gain weight. The trick is to stop abusing such foods and consume them in moderation.

As far as safety, the milk you drink today is better than the milk in the 50's & 60's. It gets harder every year to produce products that meet FDA requirements. It's mostly because of uneducated people who THINK something is harmful to them and causes a public scare.

I'm all for making products safe. But our economy is spiraling into disaster if we continue to put so many regulations in place that the producer cannot comply AND make a profit. Succumbing to every uneducated complaint will be our downfall.

pugsare4me
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pugsare4me 07/16/08 - 08:35 pm
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This writer and veterinarian

This writer and veterinarian is not someone's opinion I would trust considering he took my healthy dog into his back office and over one hour later my dog was dead. I would love to read his thoughts on that since he didnt explain what happened then-I know this is off subject, sorry.

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