Cynthia's Interests

The world as it unfolds - told from an African American woman's perspective...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Genetically Engineered Bovine Growth Hormones - The milk industry

In order for me to make a case as to why there is an increase in obesity particularly in African Americans, a general background is needed as to what Americans are consuming on a daily basis. I'm sure most Americans realize that people in this country have a lower life expectancy and are sicker than their counterparts in other developed societies. There is an increase in cancers such as prostate, breast, and ovarian as well as obesity related diseases, which includes heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and end stage kidney disease (ESKD). You name it, Americans have it, and African Americans have it worst. For instance, although African Americans consist of 12 - 13% of the total American population, they make up approximately 30 - 35% of the people with ESKD. This is because the number 1 and 2 causes of ESKD are diabetes and hypertension, which are seen in African Americans at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

My hypothesis is that the introduction of GM foods is directly related to the onset and the increase in illnesses observed in the general population and particularly in African Americans. For starters, let's examine what is happening in the milk industry.

The information listed below was taken from the following Websites:

In1994, despite nationwide protests by consumer groups, Monsanto and the FDA forced onto the US market the world's first GE animal drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH, sometimes known as rBST). BGH is a powerful GE drug produced by Monsanto which, injected into dairy cows, forces them to produce 15%-25% more milk, in the process seriously damaging their health and reproductive capacity.

Despite warnings from scientists, such as Dr. Michael Hansen from the Consumers Union and Dr. Samuel Epstein from the Cancer Prevention Coalition, that milk from rBGH injected cows contains substantially higher amounts of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1, and despite evidence that rBGH milk contains higher levels of Pus, Bacteria, and Antibiotics, the FDA gave the hormone its seal of approval, with no real pre-market safety testing required.

Moreover, the FDA ruled, in a decision marred by rampant conflict of interest (several key FDA decision makers, including Michael Taylor, previously worked for Monsanto), that rBGH-derived products did not have to be labeled, despite polls showing that 90% of American consumers wanted labeling -- mainly so they could avoid buying rBGH-tainted products.

In 1998, Canadian government scientists revealed that Monsanto's own data on feeding rBGH to rats, carefully concealed by the company and the FDA, indicated possible cancer dangers to humans.

In a 1998 survey by Family Farm Defenders, it was found that mortality rates for cows on factory dairy farms in Wisconsin, those injecting their herds with rBGH, were running at 40% per year. In other words, after two and a half years of rBGH injections most of these drugged and supercharged cows were dead.

Typically, dairy cows live for 25-30 years, but those taking rBGH, their life expectancy decreased to 4-5 years and these animals lived with excruciating pain.

The use of rBGH has continued to increase in the US (and in nations like Brazil and Mexico) especially in large dairy herds, so that currently 15% of America's 10 million lactating dairy cows are being injected with rBGH.

Compounding the problem of rBGH contamination, most of the nation's 1500 dairy companies are allowing the co-mingling of rBGH and non-rBGH milk, thereby contaminating 80-90% of the nation's milk and dairy supply (including all of the major infant formula brands).

While rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada, and has been boycotted by 95 percent of US dairy farmers, the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture continue to license the drug (and other new genetically engineered foods) without pre-market safety tests. Thanks to industry pressure, genetically engineered foods are NOT required to carry identifying labels.

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