What is rBST?
Bovine somatotropin (BST) is a protein hormone naturally produced in the pituitary glands of cattle. Monsanto was able to develop a recombinant version, rBST, by using a genetically engineered E. coli bacteria. Packaged and sold under the brand name "Posilac," farmers inject it into their cows to force cows to produce more milk - 5% to 15% more.
What is the problem with this drug?
Jeffrey M. Smith, an international best selling author and expert on health risks of genetically engineered foods, has reported that studies showed this drug decreases the nutritional content and increases the amount of antibiotics, the amount of hormones, and the amount of pus in milk.
He has also explained that rBGH stimulates another powerful hormone in cows called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The milk from treated cows has much higher levels of IGF-1 and that's a big problem.
Dr. Jenny Pompilio, MD, of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), has reported that elevated levels of IGF-1 can promote cancer in humans.
Jeffrey M. Smith has added to this that Harvard study showed men with high levels of IGF-1 are 4 times more likely to develop prostate cancer, pre-menopausal women are 7 times more likely to develop breast cancer, IGF-1 is implicated in lung and colon cancer, and a recent study implicated IGF-1 in higher rate in fraternal twins.
In fact in the United States the rate of fraternal twins is twice as high as in the UK, where rBGH is banned.
This drug is banned and prohibited in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in the 27 countries of the European Union. As a matter of fact the European Commission reported: "Avoidance of rBGH dairy products in favor of natural products would be the most practical and immediate dietary intervention to ...(achieve) the goal of preventing cancer."
How was it approved in the United States, albeit the health concerns?
The approval of rBGH in 1993 in the U.S. was probably one of the most controversial decisions the FDA ever made.
Dr. Richard Burroughs, DVM, a lead reviewer of rBGH for the FDA reported: "Well, the whole rBGH thing represents the fundamental flaws in the regulatory process - the outside influence, a lack or proper structure, proper personnel to do the job that we trust them to do." He further added: "This was approved prematurely without adequate information."
So, what does all this mean to us, the people?
William von Meyer, PhD, research scientist says: "Until we allow rBGH to go on I'm sure that we're taking excessive risk with society."