A number of national dairy product companies, and grocery store brands as well, pledge to use only milk produced naturally, without the use of rBGH, (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a genetically modified, artificial hormone created by Monsanto.
Milk has been getting good press lately; recent studies have touted the benefits of drinking milk, for its ability to lower diabetes risk to its performance topping sports drinks in its hydration quality. However, missing from these headlines is this rBGH variable used to produce much of U.S. milk that contributes to other diseases–but it done’st have to be that way.
Canadians, Europeans, Japanese, New Zealanders and Australians have long declared the consequences of consuming milk continuing these artificial hormones too great for human consumption; the use of rBGH has been essentially banned in those countries.
While Breyers and Haagen-Dazs might claim to make all-natural products, the claim is not accurate, because they do in fact use milk produced with the artificial hormone, which changes the chemical makeup of the milk.
Ben and Jerry’s, Yoplait, Dannon and Starbucks brands have all voluntarily pledged to use only milk from cows not given injections of this hormone. Likewise, retailers determining to take the same step with their store brand of milk include Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Safeway. The restaurant food chain Chipotle has also made its mission to use dairy products free of rBGH. Organic milk, by definition, is supposed to be rBGH free.
But what is the concern with rBGH?
The genetically modified hormone was created to increase milk production in the individual cow by mimicking the natural hormone a cow’s body produces to stimulate milk production. The injection of the hormones leads to higher output per cow.
Although the creator of it sued companies who began labeling their products as “rBGH free” until they placed the disclaimer that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from cows treated with the hormone versus not, the claim is far from true.
How is rBGH milk different from other milk?
Cows injected with rBGH produce extremely high levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor One, and that ends up in the milk. Samuel Epstein, MD, a cancer prevention expert at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, refers to 20 publications showing that increased levels of this IGH-1 lead to higher risk of breast cancer, and ten more studies each showing the same association for colon and prostate cancer. While IGH-1 is a natural growth hormone, what isn’t natural is the way the artificial, genetically engineered rBGH causes the milk-producing cow to produce twice to six times as much. And that excess ends up in our milk, then our bodies, absorbed into our bloodstreams.
Other concerns include the fact that cows injected with the hormone are more prone to udder infections, which requires more use of antibiotics. Not only is the residue of antibiotics passed along in the milk, but the excessive use of them contributes to the public health concern of the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
How can this be changed?
Consumers have a lot of influence, and can often effect positive change for the health of the country far faster than legislation. Money talks. When companies see consumers avoiding their products because of the use of rBGH, they will be concerned about profit loss. Using the hormone saves them money, but if their products are avoided, the artificial hormone will no longer be useful to them.
You can also write to makers of products you like and express your preference for ice cream made without the hormone and its health risks. The Physicians for Social Responsibility group is helping this process by making help available to you to contact Breyers and Dreyers, the two largest ice cream companies in the U.S. about this issue. Follow this link, and drop a quick email: http://www.psr.org/chapters/oregon/alerts/take-back-our-ice-cream.html
In the meantime, what a frugal person may have considered too high a price for buying a tiny pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream suddenly seems like a very good value!
For more information, check out this article from The Huffington Post:
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