Posts Tagged ‘ bovine growth hormone ’

GM Hormones in Dairy

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GM Hormones in Dairy

Although banned in most other industrialized nations due to the health risks to humans and harm to the animals, Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) is still injected into dairy cows in the US to increase milk-production.

So why was rBGH approved? The approval of rBGH in our country is a story of fired whistleblowers, manipulated research, and a corporate takeover of the US Food and Drug Administration. US dairies, responding to the health concerns of consumers by not injecting their herds, now battle for their right to label their milk as rBGH-free. For those familiar with the history of this controversial drug, and Monsanto, this is no surprise. Monsanto’s past is plagued with toxic disasters, lawsuits and cover-ups.

The Health Hazards in Milk from Cows Injected with rBGH

Milk from rBGH-treated cows has much higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone considered to be a high risk factor for breast, prostate, colon, lung, and other cancers. IGF-1 levels in milk from treated cows with rBGH can be up to 10 times higher. Studies suggest that pre-menopausal women below 50 years old with high levels of IGF-1 are seven times more likely to develop breast cancer. Men are four times more likely to develop prostate cancer. IGF-1 is implicated in lung and colon cancer.

Milk from rBGH-treated cows with its heightened IGF-1 levels also likely increases the rate of fraternal twin births in humans. In the United States, the number of fraternal twins grew at twice the rate as that in the United Kingdom, where rBGH is banned.

Milk from cows injected with rBGH also has lowered nutritional value, increased antibiotics and more pus from infected udders. Cows given rBGH experience higher rates of mastitis, a painful udder infection. When treated with antibiotics that are also used for people, bacteria resistant to these antibiotics end up in the milk, air, soil and water, resulting in increased antibiotic resistance in humans, a major health problem.

Labels that Lie

Within the US, many school systems have banned milk products from injected cows and dairies have refused to inject their cow with it. But a milk carton from Maine’s Oakhurst Dairy stating, “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones” became the subject of controversy when on July 3, 2003 the dairy was sued by Monsanto over their labels. Oakhurst eventually settled, agreeing to add a sentence saying that according to the FDA no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from [rBGH]-treated and non- treated cows. But it’s a statement that is not true. Both Monsanto and FDA scientists had acknowledged the increase of IGF-1 in milk from treated cows. Higher amounts of pus and antibiotic residues in the milk were noted are as well. This misleading addition to the label was written by the FDA’s deputy commissioner of policy, Michael Taylor, previously Monsanto’s outside attorney who, after running policy at the FDA, became vice president of Monsanto. Could this revolving door between Monsanto and the government regulators (i.e. the movement from positions as biotech leaders to government policymaker and back again) be the one of the reasons why the FDA isn’t protecting US consumers?

Bribes, Fired Scientists and Corporate Hijacking of the FDA and Health Canada

In the late 1980s, one FDA scientist was fired after expressing concerns about possible health problems related rBGH-treated cows. Other like-minded FDA scientists at the FDA had been stripped of responsibilities or forced out. Remaining FDA whistle-blowers had to write an anonymous letter to Congress, complaining of fraud and conflict of interest at the agency. In 1998, six Canadian government scientists testified before their Senate that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rBGH, even though they believed it was unsafe. They also testified that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet and that Monsanto offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to approve the drug. Monsanto responded to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) story about the alleged bribe, claiming that the scientists misunderstood an offer for research money. (Eventually in 2005, Monsanto was fined for offering bribes to 140 Indonesians, as the company tried to gain approval for their genetically modified cotton.)

Muscling the Media—Fox News Intimidated

In 1989, Monsanto’s PR firm created “the Dairy Coalition,” a group that included researchers funded by Monsanto, to pressure editors of the USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times and others, to stop reporting on the health concerns about rBGH.

The potential link between rBGH and cancer was one of the topics revealed in a four-part news series set to air in February of 1997 by a Tampa-based Fox TV station. Just before the series was to air, however, Fox received threatening letters from Monsanto’s attorney, threatening “dire consequences for Fox News.” The show was postponed indefinitely. The reporters who had created the series later testified that they were offered hush money to leave the station and never speak about the story again. They declined.

Progress and New Battles

Over the past few years, several organizations have worked to raise awareness of the rBGH issue, such as the Campaign For Safe Food launched by the Oregon Chapter of the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Getting attention to the rBGH issue was slow at first, but by educating consumers about the health dangers associated with rBGH and producers making rBGH-free brands readily available, we have seen a widespread consumer demand for rBGH free dairy products. Within the last two years, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, and about 40 of the 100 top dairies removed rBGH products as consumer concerns reached a tipping point on this issue.

Having failed to gain a complete ban on “rBGH-free” labeling from the FDA, Monsanto has now gone to the state level by claiming the labels are an “unfair restraint of trade” even with the FDA disclaimer. Also, in an effort to turn public opinion their way, Monsanto has been trying to promote rBGH as having a positive effect on the environment. Of course their position is based on the “bad science” that they have perfected. The reality is that rBGH is anything but green.

The Next Big Consumer Tidal Wave Will be the Complete Rejection of Remaining
GMOs in Food Products, and You Can be a Part of It

The market rejection of rBGH demonstrates that consumers are still at the top of the food chain, dictating the direction of this fight. We expect to see the same tipping point kick GM foods out of the US food supply. Almost 87 million consumers in the United States believe that all GM foods aren’t safe, but can’t always avoid them because they don’t know how. By directing the purchasing power of the tens of millions of health-conscious shoppers, we can reach a new tipping point and push GMOs out of the entire food supply.

Here are a couple of things you can do to help. First, view the rBGH free dairy products section of the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and share this with friends. Then, sign on to participate in The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America and you will join the swell that is rising out of the natural food aisles and building into tidal wave of GMO rejection throughout the entire food industry. Adding your name to the Campaign’s growing list of supporters not only addresses you and your family’s health concerns, but also influences the decisions of food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers nationwide.

Finally, we invite you to have house party showings of the new film, The World According to Monsanto, which is a part of a packaged two DVD set that includes Your Milk on Drugs – Just Say No! The World According to Monsanto, takes a hard look at Monsanto’s campaign of deception and use of coercive tactics to gain market supremacy. A showing of these two films together is sure to motivate every viewer to take steps to stop GMOs.

The following PDFs are courtesy of the Campaign for Safe Food, Oregon Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Food and Water Watch

Anything but Green – rbGH Fact Sheet (FWW) PDF

Consumer Demand for rbGH-free Products (PSR) PDF

Surveys of Consumer Attitudes (PSR) PDF

See Also: Jeffrey Smith’s 3-part blog on Huffington Post called Get Our Milk off Drugs

Pt 1 – Kansas Labelling Battle

Pt 2 – FDA Failures

Pt 3 – Fox News Intimidated

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Health Risks of GMO’s are Higher for Children

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Higher Risks for Children

Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods:

  • Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most
  • Children are more susceptible to allergies
  • Children are more susceptible to problems with milk
  • Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems
  • Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases

Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most

Children’s bodies develop at a fast pace and are more likely to be influenced and show the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods. That is why independent scientists used young adolescent rats in their GM feeding studies. The rats showed significant health damage after only 10 days, including damaged immune systems and digestive function, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, and potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines.

Children are more susceptible to allergies

Children are three to four times more prone to allergies than adults. Infants below two years old are at greatest risk-they have the highest incidence of reactions, especially to new allergens encountered in the diet. Even tiny amounts of allergens can sometimes cause reactions in children. Breast fed infants can be exposed via the mother’s diet, and fetuses may possibly be exposed in the womb. Michael Meacher, the former minister of the environment for the UK, said, “Any baby food containing GM products could lead to a dramatic rise in allergies.” GM corn is particularly problematic for children, as they generally eat a higher percentage of corn in their diet. Further, allergic children often rely on corn protein. Mothers using cornstarch as a talc substitute on their children’s skin might also inadvertently expose them via inhalation.

Children are more susceptible to problems with milk

Milk and dairy products from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) contain an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer. The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association called for more studies to determine if ingesting “higher than normal concentrations of [IGF-1] is safe for children, adolescents, and adults.” Sam Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of eight books, wrote, “rbGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.” He described how “cell-stimulating growth factors . . . could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.” Dr. Epstein pointed out that the hormones in cows could promote the production of “steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals . . . likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.”

Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems

A 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society, said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods.” They therefore recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies. Likewise, according to former minister Meacher, unexpected changes in estrogen levels in GM soy used in infant formula “might affect sexual development in children,” and that “even small nutritional changes could cause bowel obstruction.”

Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases

Children prone to ear and other infections are at risk of facing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, due to the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM food. The British Medical Association cited this as one reason why they called for a moratorium of GM foods.

GMO’s in Food

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GMOs in Food

Here is a summary of crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of May, 2010:

Currently Commercialized GM Crops in the U.S.:

(Number in parentheses represents the estimated percentage that is genetically modified.)

Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres).

Other Sources of GMOs:

  • Dairy products from cows injected with the GM hormone rbGH
  • Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet�) and rennet used to make hard cheeses
  • Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed
  • Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen
  • Contamination or pollination caused by GM seeds or pollen

Some of the Ingredients That May Be Genetically Modified: Vegetable oil, vegetable fat and margarines (made with soy, corn, cottonseed, and/or canola)

Ingredients derived from soybeans: Soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable proteins, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, tamari, tempeh, and soy protein supplements.

Ingredients derived from corn: Corn flour, corn gluten, corn masa, corn starch, corn syrup, cornmeal, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

Complete List of Invisible Ingredients

Some of the Foods That May Contain GM Ingredients:

  • Infant formula
  • Salad dressing
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Hamburgers and hotdogs
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Chocolate
  • Candy
  • Fried food
  • Chips
  • Veggie burgers
  • Meat substitutes
  • Ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Tamari and Soy sauce
  • Soy cheese
  • Tomato sauce
  • Protein powder
  • Baking powder
  • Any sugar not 100% Cane
  • Confectioner’s glaze
  • Alcohol
  • Vanilla (may contain corn syrup)
  • Peanut butter
  • Enriched flour
  • Pasta
  • Malt
  • White vinegar

Non-Food Items That May Contain GM Ingredients:

  • Cosmetics
  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Shampoo
  • Bubble bath

References:
Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, US Department of Agriculture: Acreage. Click here to download PDF (2009)

Ruth Winter, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives: Descriptions in plain English of more than 12,000 ingredients both harmful and desirable found in foods, 6th ed. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004).

Robert S. Igoe, The Dictionary of Food Ingredients, 2nd ed. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989)

Research Triangle Institute, Economic Characterization of the Dietary Supplement Industry, March 1999 Click here to download PDF

Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database of the World Health Organization (WHO) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the reports of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Available at:http://www.codexalimentarius.net/gsfaonline/additives/index.html

The University of Maryland Medical Center database of supplements by name: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/index.htm

Archives of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/

Reports of the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/reports_en.html

U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) PubMed Central (PMC): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/