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Avoidable Exposures: Consumers


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The Organic Milk Wars:  It's Not Just the Price

Press Release, 9/22/06

Shoppers’ appetite for organic food is steadily growing. Leading the way is USDA certified organic milk, with this year’s growth rate of 25 percent, while overall consumption decreased by 10 percent. Organic milk is now among the first organic product that consumers buy.

  

What’s more, the price of organic milk, besides other organic food, is dropping sharply to a narrow margin above conventional products. Leading the way, and far ahead of the field, is Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer and retailer.

  

Price apart, this is very good news for consumers. Organic milk is very different, and safer than milk from cows injected with rBGH, a highly potent genetically engineered version of BGH, the natural bovine growth hormone.

Manufactured by Monsanto, rBGH is sold to dairy farmers under the trade name Posilac. Injection of this hormone forces cows to increase their milk production by about 10%. However, this is of little or no benefit in view of the current national surplus. Monsanto has stated that about one third of dairy cows in the nation are in large herds where the hormone is now used. rBGH factory farms now pose a major threat to the viability of small organic dairy farms, and enriches Monsanto without any benefits to consumers.

  

Monsanto, strongly supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), still insists that hormonal milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is safe. This is blatantly false:

 

  • rBGH makes cows sick. Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis, on its Posilac drug label.
  • rBGH milk is often contaminated with pus, due to mastitis commonly induced by rBGH, and also with antibiotics used to treat the mastitis. This poses risks of nationwide antibiotic resistance to life threatening infections.
  • rBGH milk is chemically, and nutritionally different than natural milk. These differences include increased levels of milk fat, posing cardiovascular risks.
  • Milk from cows injected with rBGH is contaminated with the hormone, traces of which are absorbed through the gut into the blood, and provoke foreign antibodies.
  • rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut. These levels are further increased following pasteurization.
  • In numerous published scientific studies over the last two decades, excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as causes of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
  • IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms, technically known as apoptosis, against the growth of early submicroscopic cancers.

Based on such well-documented scientific evidence, a 1999 European Commission Report, by a group of well recognized international experts, concluded that avoidance of rBGH dairy products in favor of natural organic products “would appear to be the most practical and immediate dietary intervention to . . . achieve the goal of preventing cancer.” Warnings of these risks were detailed in my 1996 publication in the prestigious International Journal of Health Services , endorsed by over 50 leading national and international independent experts in cancer prevention and public health, besides by activist consumer groups, and in my 2006 book What’s In Your Milk?

Based on such scientific evidence, Canada, 28 European Member States, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Japan have all banned the use and import of U.S. rBGH milk and dairy products.

  

In sharp contrast, the FDA continues to turn a blind eye to the dangers of Monsanto’s hormonal milk. This indifference has been supported by longstanding conflicts of interest between Monsanto and the White House, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society, which still remain unrecognized by the media. Also unrecognized have been Congressional expressions of concern. These include a 1990 charge by Congressman John Conyers, then Chair of the House Committee on Government Operations. “I find it reprehensible that Monsanto and the FDA have chosen to suppress and manipulate animal health test data in efforts to approve commercial use of rBGH . . .without regard to the adverse effects on humans.”

  

As recently warned by Ben Cohen, Co-Founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, “rBGH is a bad and dangerous . . . bio-technological solution to a problem that does not exist.”

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. (epstein@uic.edu)

Professor emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine

University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health,

Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, www.preventcancer.com

Author of the new book on rBGH, What’s In Your Milk?

September 22, 2006

  

 


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