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Bovine Growth Hormone

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Bovine Growth Hormone
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone or BGH is a drug manufactured by the Monsanto Company. This drug was produced to increase milk production in cows. The FDA approved BGH in 1993 for use in dairy farming, the usage of BGH began in 1994. After the first batch of milking it was seen that cows began to die (Wade, 1). The BGH was forcing the dairy cows to create milk faster then they could eat. This was causing their milk producing glands to extract calcium from the bones of the cows. This caused the cows to become weakened and fall down. It is also noticed that an increased occurrence of mastitis, which is an infection of the cows utters. (Wade, 1) The infection is cured by a regime of antibiotics, which make it into our milk. It is also seen that there is no legitimate use to BGH. In the United States there is a surplus of dairy products, meaning that with the use of BGH small farmers will be run out of business by the factory farms. They can produce larger quantities of milk and be able to sell them at lower prices. The production of the Bovine Growth Hormone in order to help the dairy industry has become a controversial issue since its usage approval.

In today’s world being a socially responsible company is not only a trending fad but also it is almost a requirement by the consumers. Many companies have labels stating things like “dolphin free” or “BGH free.” The merchandisers use these labels to increase their sales with the socially responsible consumers use both of these labels. In the instance with BGH free labels many companies are putting the BGH free label or the Synthetic hormone free labels on their products. “Its manufacturer acknowledges that it can cause health problems in cows; some physicians also believe it increases the risk of cancer in humans who drink milk from BGH-treated cows. Though there are still many questions concerning the impact of BGH on animals and humans, consumer surveys show that many people prefer to buy products made with untreated milk.” (Coughlan, 1) This has caused many companies to strive for the right to mention that they do not use BGH in their products. “Ben & Jerry's, an ice cream company based In Burlington, Vt., only uses milk and cream from dairies that pledge, under state law, not to use BGH.” (Coughlan, 1) The FDA is allowing these labels to be placed on products as long as the labels state that the FDA believes “BGH-treated milk is identical to untreated milk” (Coughtlhan, 1)

Some government organizations disagree with the labeling all together. The Illinois department of public health states “"This will create misunderstandings, because [BGH] does not come through in milk, so to say it's BGH-free is meaningless," says Marylena Bordson, manager of the department's dairy program.” (Coughlan, 1) The department also states that there is no testing that is available to support the labeling; therefore the labeling is completely useless. In response to the claims that without testing the labeling is useless the chairman of Ben & Jerry’s has included that Kosher and Dolphin free tuna labels can not be supported by labeling so “what’s the rational for that?” (Coughlan, 1)
Another concern that comes with the use of BGH is that “Introduction of the hormone into dairy farms will produce "the single most devastating economic dislocation in U.S. agricultural history,"” (Arnot, 1) The small farmers are scared that the large factory farms will be able to introduce the hormones into their herds and still maintain the ability to deal with deaths and sicknesses. While small dairy farms with small herds “which typically has about 50 cows as opposed to up to 2,000 on some corporate farms.” (Arnot, 1) will not be able to deal with deaths and sicknesses. Some opponents to this theory “"As we move into more technology, large corporate farms will have to hire skilled and educated people, and that will cost them dearly," Zartman says. "Family farmers will learn to use the technique themselves." He also argues that the smaller farms currently obtain less milk per cow, so they may expect to benefit more from a boost in milk production.” (Arnot 1) with the increases in the technology of today’s world we may see as farms are forced to hire more educated workers decreasing the profit margins. But small family farms must learn to use this technology and purchase it, which can put a strain on them as well.

The opponents of the BGH hormone have used arguments of the cow’s health. “The Humane Society, in a rare alliance with farmers, is focusing on the potential effects of increased milk production on the individual cow. "The dairy cow is now under intense pressure to produce," says Michael Fox of the society. "Growth hormone will turn the cow even more into a milk machine." Fox opposes that increased milk production increases cows' susceptibility to a variety of diseases.” (Wade, 1) With the use of the BGH hormone increased cases of mastitis has been found in the herds that have been treated with BGH. “The extra BGH from the injection is very hard on the cow's metabolism and health. BGH injected cow's have approximately a 80% increase in the rate of mastitis” The mastitis infection is treated with the use of antibiotic which of the many used on 4 are treated to be removed from the milk. (Wade, 1) One such antibiotic used to treat the infected cows is insulin like growth factor or IGF – 1. IGF - 1 has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypertension, acromegaly, and gynecomastia. There has been a Monsanto sponsored study to see the effects of BGH. “This Monsanto sponsored study was apparently designed to minimize the chance of finding IGF - 1 to be orally active.” (Wade, 1) these tactics of falsifying documentation is not new to the Monsanto Corporation. “In developing the herbicide 2,4,5 T, used in Agent Orange, another Monsanto product. Back in the 1960s, Monsanto, working closely with the Pentagon and the Veterans' Administration, intentionally falsified key data on the effects of Agent Orange on human health in order to sell the deadly defoliant to the government for “use” in Vietnam.” (Wade, 1) This shows that a company like Monsanto is not trust worthy of producing consumer goods. With a Hormone like BGH that harms animals and has the potential to harm humans more research should be brought to the table. Long-term studies should be applied to this drug to see the long-term effects it has on a herd of cows and on a grouping of people.

In some countries the use of BGH has been banned altogether, in Canada BGH as been banned “A panel of veterinary experts appointed by the Canadian government concluded that mastitis, an udder infection, is 25 per cent more likely to occur in cows treated with the hormone. Treated cows are also 18 per cent more likely to be infertile and 50 per cent more likely to become lame.” (O’Conner, 1) Monsanto is fighting the banning of the drug “claims the panel unfairly included data on experimental versions of the hormone made by other companies.” As shown, the use of drugs like BGH is harmful and should not be used on cows due to the unknown effects on humans. The use of this new “technology” should also be reason to ban the drug. The harmful effects it can have on the milk markets will greatly affect local farming, which is an important part of the economical system within the United States. In the European Union bans which expired in 2000 were set in place to limit the drug to protect small farmers. Bovine Growth Hormone is a drug produced to help the dairy industry but has become a controversial issue since its approval.


1. Kirschner, Elisabeth. "Bovine Hormone Sales Booming Despite Attacks." Chemical & Engineering News 72.17 (1994): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

2. Coughlan, Andy. "Milk Hormone Faces Growing Opposition." New Scientist 161.2170 (1999): 13. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

3. Arnot, Bob. "The Great American Milk War." Good Housekeeping 218.6 (1994): 50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

4. Jenn, Tom. "Bovine Growth Hormone: Just Say Moo." Utne Reader (87500256) 21 (1987): 13. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

5. Gy. Huszenicza, et al. "Alui Polymorphism Of The Bovine Growth Hormone (GH) Gene, Resumption Of Ovarian Cyclicity, Milk Production And Loss Of Body Condition At The Onset Of Lactation In Dairy Cows." Theriogenology 71.4 (2009): 553-559. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

6. Miller, J.A. "Barnyard Biotech: Dissent On The Farm." Science News 129.14 (1986): 213. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

7. O'Connor, Amy. "Litigation Over BGH Labeling." Vegetarian Times 230 (1996): 22. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

8. Diamond, Adam. "Book Review: Lisa Nicole Mills, Science and Social Context: The Regulation of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone in North America. McGill-Queen's University Press [Montreal & Kingston], 2002. 206 Pp. ISBN 0-7735-2375-8." Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18.5 (2005): 509-13. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

9. Pierre, Philippe. "Science and Social Context: The Regulation of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone in North America." Canadian Journal of Public Health 95.2 (2004): 155-. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

10. Hayry, Matti. "How to Apply Ethical Principles to the Biotechnological Production of Food - the Case of Bovine Growth Hormone." Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12.2 (2000): 177-84. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

11. Grobe, Deana, Robin Douthitt, and Lydia Zepeda. "Consumer Risk Perception Profiles regarding Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH)." The Journal of Consumer Affairs 33.2 (1999): 254-75. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

12. Gaard, Greta. "Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone Criticism Grows." Alternatives Journal 21.3 (1995): 6-9. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

13. Grobe, Deana. "The Diary Debate: Consequences of Bovine Growth Hormone and Rotational Grazing Technologies." The Journal of Consumer Affairs 28.2 (1994): 449-. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

14. Genetically Enhanced Milk To Hit Shevles Next Month, Ken Mergentime, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Jan. 94, p. 15.

15. BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE (rBGH), By Gary Wade, Physicist. Article was extracted from Appendix H from the paper: Dr. Rife and the Death of the Cancer Industry.

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