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In 1993 the FDA approved a controversial GE product, rBGH (also known as rBST), for use in dairy farming. This genetically engineered hormone is injected into cows to increase their milk production. Many animal health problems arise from this practice including fertility issues in cows, birth deformities in calves, increased levels of somatic cell count (pus) in milk, diarrhea, and greater rates of mastitis (a clinical udder infection). To read more about the effects of rBGH on dairy cows, read the POSILAC® insert (the commercial name for rBGH).
Beyond an animal welfare issue, increased health problems in dairy cows may result in greater use of antibiotics in herds supplemented with rBGH. This contributes to overuse of these drugs and can ultimately lead to antibiotic resistance in humans. Additionally, a number of studies showed that rBGH increases amounts of IGF-1 in milk. This is a hormone that, when present in higher than naturally occurring levels, promotes increased prostate, breast, colon and other cancers in humans.
At Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility we believe it is imperative to advocate for precaution when dealing with risk to human health. Therefore we are working to raise consumer awareness about rBGH and discontinue its use nationwide through promoting grassroots citizen action.
To learn more about rBGH please review our numerous fact sheets and downloads. There are many steps consumers can take to both avoid this genetically engineered product and help get it off the market. The Campaign for Safe Food encourages everyone to purchase rBGH-free products and ask companies who do use it to stop.
Know Your Milk: Does it have artificial hormones? A discussion with Oregon PSR member Jenny Pompilio, M.D.