Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbgh)

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbgh)

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What is Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)?

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) also known as recombinant bovine somatotropins  (rBST) is a manmade protein hormone (not a steroid hormone) injected in cows to artificially increase milk production. We ingest these hormones when drinking milk or eating byproducts from these animals such as cheese, butter, cream, yogurt, and ice cream. It is also found in milk derivatives in chocolate, candy bars, cakes, and more.

The use of rBGH increases dairy production by more than 15%, which is a boon to Big Food companies. The FDA approved Monsanto’s rBGH product, Posilac, for commercial use in 1993.

Despite no long-term studies on the human health implications, the FDA concluded that the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone in dairy cattle presented no increased health risk to consumers.

Is there anything to worry about?

The data show that rBGH significantly increases IGF-1, a protein (insulin growth factor 1) in milk. Small amounts of IGF-1 are found in milk naturally. IGF-1 has been linked to pre-menopausal breast cancer. The studies aren’t conclusive, but why take the risk? 

Alarmingly, rBGH has been banned in Europe, Canada, and many other countries since 1990. Yet, we in America don’t require Big Food to inform us on simple food labels. Thankfully, the  demand for rBHG treated cows is reducing, however, it is still present in the American food supply.

Does rBGH have any effect on animals?

Yes! The treated animals have a higher incidence of mastitis (udder infection). Other issues include reduced pregnancy rates, increased body temperature unrelated to illness, an increase in digestive disorders, and the possibility of permanent injection site reactions. 

The udder infections also require treatment with antibiotics that we directly ingest when we consume the animal. Also, more insidious is the creation of superbugs that are multidrug resistant (bacteria that can’t be killed with standard antibiotics). Remember, we are not what we eat, we are what the animal ate.

How can I avoid rBGH?

Don’t expect food labels to always inform you. Nevertheless, look for rBGH-free. Here is an excellent website listing the safe brands. Buy local and certified organic. Organic products do not contain synthetic growth hormones. 

We must demand removal of these synthetic hormones that harms animals’ health and could be harmful to our health as well. We are more likely to bend Big Food’s ear to a more humane and natural food supply if we refuse to buy these products. So, let’s stop buying products containing these growth hormones.


Products With RBGH