BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR In a stunning consumer victory the biotech behemoth Monsanto announced on August 8th that they want to dump their business of producing rBGH and hope to find a buyer for the product. rBGH is a lab produced, genetically modified artificial growth hormone that is being administered to about 15-17 percent of America’s milk producing dairy cows. r = recombinant which means it’s artificially produced in a lab; BGH, Bovine-Growth-Hormone is the common description for the hormone bovine somatotropin (BST) sold to dairy farmers under the commercial name of Posilac. The label on a bottle of Posilac lists 20 possible toxic effects. Posilac was approved by America’s Food and Drug Administration in 1993 but the product has always been banned in the European Union, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and other countries that have more sense than our own.
The beef with rBGH? Many farmers and animal advocates believe this growth hormone is harmful to cows and many mothers worry that it might actually cause cancer in humans — all this just to get cows to pump up their production of milk by one gallon a day?
rBGH did pump up Monsanto’s bottom line, for awhile. But due to continued consumer backlash many corporations that sell milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese are realizing that their customers do not want to feed their children milk containing genetically modified growth hormones and have discontinued selling milk that contains rBGH. Thank you Wal-Mart (did I really just say that?!?!) and a shout out to Starbucks, Kroger supermarkets and Kraft who have all announced earlier this year that they were going to only source their milk from dairy processors that have rBGH-free cows. And the Nurses, again on the forefront, have passed an official resolution at the latest American Nurses Association stating that they support state laws and policies that aim to reduce rBGH. This is a huge issue because many states, including Pennsylvania, have tried to pass (or have already passed) laws that would make it illegal to label milk “rBGH Free.” The nurses go even further and announce they favor hospital and health care industry purchases of rBGH free products — in other words, the whole shebang anything that will reduce the use of rBGH. [So Doctors, what’s up with you?]
One of the creepiest results of cows being treated with rBGH is a common side effect, mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, aka mammary gland, aka utter. It causes the cow pain which is enough of a reason (for me) to stop using this drug. But if you don’t care about things like that what about this — cows that get mastitis from rBGH have to be treated with antibiotics. As you know, increased use of antibiotics in animal husbandry puts everyone at risk of new antibiotic-resistant-diseases. Ok, you say that will never happen to me, I won’t catch one. Fine. How is this? Cows with mastitis produce milk filled with pus. So not only will your milk from rBGH cows have trace amounts of artificial growth hormone and antibiotics it may very well have pus in it too.
In a strange twist of fate, cows with mastitis produce less milk. If the primary purpose of rBGH is to increase milk production but it causes mastitis which significantly decreases milk production, what’s the use? Money for sure. But now, the money isn’t there anymore and Monsanto wants out.
As I said at the top this is a stunning consumer victory. The public doesn’t want to drink milk with artificial, genetically modified growth hormones. They spoke with their pocketbooks and it was noticed, big time, by the corporations involved all the way down the supply chain. But there is still a cloud ahead and it may not have a silver lining. On August 20th the 10th largest maker of pharmaceuticals has offered to purchase the rBGH division from Monsanto. Eli Lilly, the infamous maker of such drugs as Prozac and Cialis has offered to pay $3 million upfront.
People, our work is not done. MORE
BiG TeA PaRtY has two, count ‘em, two videos showing at this year’s GreenFest Philly, the area’s largest environmental event. It’s a one-day street fair FREE to the public, where over 200 exhibitors and 20,000 people are expected.
Eco-Film Forum @ Greenfest Philly
Sunday, September 7, 11am-6pm
PhillyCarShare Tent: 2nd & Pine Streets
As part of Water Issues 3:30-4pm
BiG TeA PaRtY video: H2Yo
Learning the importance of water conservation was never so entertaining. Eco-punk Elizabeth Fiend offers cool do-it-yourself tips amidst a groovy parade of psychedelic images.
As part of Communities & Activism 5-6pm
BiG TeA PaRtY video: Crop Circles
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a fun and easy way to maintain an organic and sustainable lifestyle, while also supporting local farmers. Featuring Greensgrow Farm, Scarecrow Hill Farm and candid interviews with Philadelphians.
More info: http://bigteaparty.com/