In any living mammal, growth hormones are naturally occurring substances which, amongst other things, aid in the growth and development of the species. Naturally occurring growth hormones in cows known as bovine somatotropin (BST) or bovine growth hormone (BGH) is secreted by the cow’s pituitary gland and along with other hormones aids in the production of milk. Growth hormones in cows, other than the naturally occurring one, are being introduced by cattle owners in order to increase productivity as well as profitability.
In recent years, the GMO company Monsanto has developed a genetically-engineered synthetic growth hormone known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin hormone (rBST) which can increase milk production by as high as 25%. Although this poses higher yields for the cattle owner, what are the effects of these hormones to the consumers? Is the consumption of this hormone considered to be safe?
Don’t Cry Over Spilled rBST Hormone
The use of rBST hormone has been approved by the FDA since 1994 despite protests by different consumer groups. In many developed countries, except in the US, the use of this hormone in cattle has been banned due to the many health hazards that it may pose. rBGH milk is known to contain more pus, bacteria and antibiotics and despite this, its use has still been approved by the USFDA. In 1998, government scientists from Canada have revealed that Monsanto has concealed data concerning the carcinogenic effects of rBST in rats, and possibly in humans as well. This has led to Canada banning the use of the said hormone.
It has also been noted that milk from rBST-treated cattle have higher levels of a protein known as insulin-dependent growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This growth factor has been implicated in several forms of cancer such as breast, colon and prostate cancer.
The early onset of puberty in girls has also been seen in recent years and researchers are now looking at the possibility of this phenomenon being caused by the use of rBST hormones in milk-producing cattle as well. The problem with early puberty lies in the fact that this may also be one of the precursors for breast cancer in women.
Why RBGH Cows Are Unhealthy And Unsafe
The problem of rBGH cows start with the fact that they are forced to produce more milk than they naturally can. As a result, this situation may lead to a condition known as mastitis which involves inflammation of the cow’s udder. Mastitis may thus result in the formation of pus and blood which leads to contaminated milk. The treatment to mastitis involves the use of antibiotics via injection into the cow’s udder. This leads to antibiotics becoming additional milk contaminants in rBGH cows.
The greater concern, however, lies in the high levels of a growth factor known as insulin-dependent growth factor 1 (Igf-1) as previously mentioned. It is a wonder why the FDA continuously approves the use of rBGH in cows in the US. After having been banned in Canada and the EU due to possible health hazards, the FDA continues to proclaim that rBGH is safe for use. It is now up to the consumers to be vigilant in knowing what products are safe, not only for themselves but for their families as well.