- Look at photos of the gigantic udders on rBST treated
dairy cows and it's not hard to imagine the artificial hormone's role in
increasing U.S. rates of breast and prostate cancer, precocious puberty
- But U.S. milk producers and agricultural officials continue
to say Monsanto's Posilac, which has been used unlabeled in much of the
U.S. public milk supply since 1994, is safe. 
- Even as they jump all over each other to ban it.
- Last year, Oregon's Tillamook County Creamery Association,
the nation's second largest maker of chunk cheese, renounced rBST. 
- This year, Dean Foods and H.P. Hood, New England's two
largest milk processors, Arizona's Shamrock Farms and Northwestern Dairy
Association's Darigold did. [3, 4]
- And Dean Foods in Texas and Prairie Farms Dairy in Carlinville,
IL, are leaning in that direction. 
- Even Vermont Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr has come
out against rBST as his state moves toward zero tolerance. 
- Created by combining cow DNA with E coli, (yes, that
E coli) Monsanto's recombinant bovine somatotropin, rBST, designed to make
cows produce more milk, was one of the first genetically modified substances
approved for U.S. consumption by the FDA in 1993.
- But its Frankenfood roots, hormonal actions, unlabeled
status and expediency approach to agriculture--squeezing more profit out
of each animal "unit"-- earned it the ire of farmers, consumer
groups, environmental organizations and animal advocates. Even Mario Cuomo
declaimed it when he was New York Governor. 
- To this day rBST remains banned in Canada, Japan, the
EU, Australia, New Zealand and all but 19, mostly nonindustrialized, countries
though Monsanto says that's because of "an oversupply of dairy products"
not safety concerns. 
- In fact the more you learn about rBST, the more you wonder
why anyone would think it is safe.
- Take the unpublished rat study Monsanto supplied to the
FDA for drug approval. Monsanto claimed no rats absorbed rBST in their
blood stream--hence there was no need for long term toxicity studies--but
Canadian scientists who obtained the study discovered that 20% to 30% of
the rats did absorb rBST with biggest concentrations in (you guess it)
the prostate. There were also thyroid cysts. 
- This inspired Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and James
Jeffords to ask the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to formally
investigate the FDA's approval of rBST in 1998.  Especially since the
FDA employee in charge of labeling guidelines for rBST, Michael R. Taylor,
had been a Monsanto vice president. And the FDA researcher charged with
evaluating rBST levels in milk had done the same work at Monsanto. 
- And how about IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor-1, the
rBST byproduct that's associated with breast, prostate and colon cancer
and may be in the milk? 
- "IGF-1 is [a] naturally occurring human hormone
commonly measured in our saliva," writes Trent Loos, columnist for
the Agribusiness weekly Feedstuffs on the rBST supporting web site <http://www.igf-1-and-milk.com/>www.igf-1-and-milk.com.
"Every person who has ever been diagnosed with cancer has also had
saliva. Does that mean that saliva causes cancer? NO. Furthermore, if parents
are worried about the impact of milk consumption on their kids, are they
keeping the kids locked away from the sun? Malignant melanoma [is] the
most serious form of skin cancer." Reassured? Me, too.
- Then there's the mastitis.
- Occurrences of mastitis--udder infections--and lameness
are so increased under rBST, a Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
panel's report found, "Treated cows were at higher risk of being culled,"
and rBST was banned. 
- John Shumway, a Lowville, New York dairy farmer told
an Albany newspaper he had to cull a quarter of his cows after using rBST
for eight weeks. 
- And "cull chronically-infected cows," is actually
one of the "general recommendations" Monsanto offers for mastitis
management on its web site.
- Not only does mastitis introduce antibiotic residues
in milk and encourage antibiotic resistance, it has contributed to the
wave of dairy downers seen in slaughterhouses in the last decade, food
activists say. 
- Some even claim the hopped up metabolic needs of rBST
cows are what induced dairymen to feed downer cows to live ones in the
macabre practice that transmitted mad cow disease.
- As anti-rBST sentiment builds in the U.S. and the public
says, "We're drinking WHAT?" Monsanto executives contend that
the new rBST-free milk offerings are a marketing ploy.
- They know a little about marketing ploys.
- Martha Rosenberg is a Staff Cartoonist at the Evanston
Roundtable. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San
Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Providence Journal. Arizona Republic,
New Orleans Times-Picayune and other newspapers. She can be reached at:
- Lorie Kramer
- Dear Jeff,
- In reading Martha Rosenberg's article regarding Monsanto
and rBST, I was reminded of Monsanto's war against Oakhurst Dairy three
years ago because the company wanted to label their milk products with
a pledge that said, "Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones."
- Monsanto and Oakhurst settled the lawsuit, the company
agreed to the label "Our Farmers´ Pledge: No Artificial Growth