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Safety of Mosanto's rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone)


dougery
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Imagine what would happen if someone posted 3+3 = 5?  We would get corrected, and how. 

Thats silly... Everyone knows that .it's 2 + 2 = 5 :laugh:.

Seriously though humans are notorious for grossly overestimating the likleyhood and severity of rare errors while grossly underestimating the severity and likelyhood of common errors. Which is why more people have a fear of flying than a fear of driving, even though the drive to the airport is more dangerous than your plane trip.

Even if the risks of BGH were real, the fact that it's taken so long to pick them up must mean they are incredibly subtle. Hardly something worth worrying about while other, very real and significant risks are ignored.

You make a good point, but none of this worrying is mutually exclusive. What risks do you feel are being ignored?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Farmers since the 50's have been directed to become Addicts, not much different then the crack heads on Hastings in Vancouver, the difference is the land is addictive to the chemicals.

Son, I hope you said that in your nice voice.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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This thread seems to have raised more questions than answers. :wink:

Many of you seem quite knowledgeable on this topic, and I appreciate the thoughtful discussion.

Although there seems to be ample evidence that rBGH does not transmit through the milk in a noticeable quantity, have there been any long term studies on how this effects future generations of cows after years of rBGH use and breeding? Can repeated, long term use of a hormone eventually alter the DNA of live stock in unexpected and dangerous ways?

Have there been any long term studies on it's effects on growth of human's (infant to adult) after generations of consumption?

I find little comfort in the fact that the FDA has approved this hormone. I recently attended a product liability seminar (presented quite objectively) and the case study we followed was a class action law suit against a large pharmaceutical. It appears everybody was in bed with each other (what's new!) and the FDA turned a blind eye to a very dangerous drug. ALL studies were tilted either to the right or left with very little objective, unbiased scientific research being done. Money has a strange way of creating some of the most curious bed companions.

From the information gathered on this thread, it is most probable that consumption of rGBH milk would not be detrimental to an individual in the short term, but will continued consumption grow more problems for future generations? Little problems certainly do seem to experience growth at exponential, viral like rates once they have a good foot hold established.

Being a new parent has me thinking much more about long term effects on the environment and the human race. Although we do many things today with good intentions, sadly, much of the time they are done with much disregard for the future of our species and is motivated by quick monetary gains.

I know I have a choice to drink whatever type of milk I want, but my concern is more on the long term ramifications these drugs will have on future generations.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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. If you wish to address the ideas directly or the issues I would be very happy to continue this discussion, however, if you continue to simply claim that you are a scientist and thererfore know better on that basis than count me out.

Doc,

Either accept the experts (authors and reviewers) opinion or read the various studies and come up with some criticisms. You should then submit a letter for publication in Science pointing out the flaws in the research. Send a copy to me and, if I agree with them, I will gladly sign it along with you.

You are basically saying that we should give your "faith based" argument greater weight than 45 years worth of scientific evidence. I am not an expert in this field, but I am unbiased and I did actually read some of the research and found it quite convincing.

You may be right that "organic" milk is safer than that from BGH treated milk cows but the scientific evidence does not support your claims.

Regarding your lack of understanding of "relative risk", I was referring to your deciding that a product that has been exhaustively tested (BGH milk) is less safe than an untested product (Organic milk from various mutant dairy cows). Why are you so concerned about the risk of the former but not the latter? In these days of DNA sequencing shouldn't we be pushing for genetic monitoring of our livestock? Is it possible that you are deeply biased and that this is influencing your risk assessment? Do you think that all scientific evidence is so unreliable.

Are there cases of Government "approved" drugs with highly deleterious effects, supported by questionable science? Definitely, but of the ones I am aware of a review of the scientific literature makes these quite obvious. (N.B. Be especially cautious of vaccines). With a food product such as milk no level of real (not hypothetical) risk is acceptable because the benefit is so small. Milk is NOT saving any lives.

Regarding antibiotic resistance:

When I worked in the Microbiology department in SmithKlineBeecham (now GSK) the general opinion (IIRC) was that vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus probably arose in Europe from antibiotic resistance being picked up from drug resistant Enterococcus faecalis in livestock. Certainly the drug companies don't mind resistance to off-patent drugs cropping up, and it helps their business of selling new drugs.

Should we give prophylactic doses of antibiotics to our livestock? I think this is again a case for careful "risk versus benefit" analysis. I suspect that their are certain classes of drugs we should protect for human use alone (vancomycin is one example as it is the last defense against Staph), and others that will have no impact if used in cattle.

One of my favorite antibiotics (for purely scientific reasons) is bicyclomycin which is not used clinically in humans but has been used in cattle feed in Japan. An antibiotic such as bicyclomycin poses no risk if overused, because it has too narrow of a spectrum for human use. Perhaps we should use or develop highly selective antibiotics just for animal husbandry.

Should we pump cattle full of our latest and greatest antibiotics? I don't think so. Developing new classes of broad spectrum antibiotics has been very difficult, and so we should be cautious about developing drug resistant pathogens that will render them obsolete.

here are papers published in recent years who show in animal studies that increased levels of IGF-1 might be associated with higher risk for certain cancers. (I can look for the citations if there is interest) Also the point that "They conclude that no rbGH can make it into the blood stream from an oral dose." is very controversial and most likely wrong. Their methods in 1990 were simply not good enough to detect those levels even so such levels have an effect on IGF-1 levels. Nobody in the scientific literature is concerned about rbGH and its direct effect on humans but on the indirect effect of rbGH on IGF-1 and and its effect on humans.

The studies showed that BGH raises IGF-1 levels in cattle. We are not worried so much about possible cancer risks in cattle as to affects on Humans which have been carefully evaluated.

Also the point that "They conclude that no rbGH can make it into the blood stream from an oral dose." is very controversial and most likely wrong.

No, they were unable to detect any rBGH in rats after giving large doses of rBGH orally (studies done by UpJohn, Monsanto and American Cyanamid). These confirmed that, as expected, there is no mechanism for the rBGH to be both protected from digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Even if you were right and a trace amount of rBGH from the tiny amount in the milk you consume made it into your blood stream, it couldn't possibly be significant compare to the many times larger amount of Human Growth Hormone present in your body. There is a ggo reason why the cattle are injected with rBGH rather than given it orally. It has no effect given orally.

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  In these days of DNA sequencing shouldn't we be pushing for genetic monitoring of our livestock? 

That's really opening up a diminishing returns case. With the stage we are currently at with genetic engineering and genome understanding, it'll provide a lot of egghead work, but not return much, yet. To be a successful portion of agriculture, it'll take at least another decade of engineering on the technology behind how actual application of this goes. It ain't easy, yet.

Should we give prophylactic doses of antibiotics to our livestock? 

No. Wasn't that easy? The reason is, there are numerous studies from antibiotics to herbicides that within 15 years of any new product coming on the market, there is a published case of resistance.

When you couple that with the general case of giving prophylactic doses to livestock is giving them sub-therapeutic doses, you find that you set up a perfect area for a resistant population to set up shop. Depending on how the resistance is gained, this population could be exceptionally difficult to get rid of. The epidemiology is already done.

Why do we have animals that we need to give sub-therapeutic doses to? Well, confinement is one reason. Also, livestock is usually raised around some form of standing water, which is not necessarily the best for wholesome-ness, so you always have some form of crap going through the population. It's just like the soldiers say at basic training. You shove a bunch of animals in an open bay, and they get sick.

So, what do we need to do? Look at how we raise animals in confinement and see if there is something we can do to help relieve that stress. Monitor the animals in confinement better to remove sick ones earlier. And, agressively treat illnesses in them.

What does that mean with rBGH treated milk cows? Certainly monitoring them is called for. Making sure that their teats are not overused is another safety measure that needs to be heeded (if it's not already).

Off-topic, not every paper that gets published in Nature or Science is necessarily backed by quality data. That's why everyone needs to read and consider each paper carefully.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I can tell you off the top of my head that in Asia, crop yields rose THREE HUNDRED PERCENT during a 30 year span with barely an increase in the amount of land utilized. Estimates of human lives saved range up to a billion (even if exaggerated 500% that's still the greatest example of human benevolence in history).

Africa hasn't seen the same success because wheat and rice generally don't grow on the continent. However, we're now turning attention to crops that do, cassava and the like.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Here's a good summary paper with which to start:

www.williams.edu:803/Economics/wp/Gollin The Green Revolution.pdf

also try this article:

http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=50

granted that butterfliesandwheels is a science advocacy site...my real point in using this article is the extensive bibliography -- if you're really interested in the subject it's an excellent listing of legitimate sources.

and by way of snide comparison...whatever organic or "sustainable agriculture" websites you may be reading for this "the green revolution didn't happen myth" -- you'll notice that none of them actually have this kind of sourcing....coming from an academic background, that's very telling.

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as for DDT and malaria, here's an article from the Lancet (not exactly a right-wing or industry beholden source):

Roberts DR, Manguin S, Mouchet J., "DDT house spraying and re-emerging malaria.", The Lancet, 1999.

if you examine malaria-relating NGO's you'll find numerous advocacy papers, such as here: www.fightingmalaria.org. Ralph Nader has also been active on this. (I post this only for those impressed by such websites. The Lancet article is really the place to start.)

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  In these days of DNA sequencing shouldn't we be pushing for genetic monitoring of our livestock? 

That's really opening up a diminishing returns case. With the stage we are currently at with genetic engineering and genome understanding, it'll provide a lot of egghead work, but not return much, yet. To be a successful portion of agriculture, it'll take at least another decade of engineering on the technology behind how actual application of this goes. It ain't easy, yet.

But it is getting easier. Back when I was a student it took me weeks to sequence a kilobase of DNA.

I bet the anti-BGH crown would prefer to know whether or not their Organic cows are overproducing BGH or making some hyperactive mutant hormone.

Should we give prophylactic doses of antibiotics to our livestock? 

No.  Wasn't that easy?  The reason is, there are numerous studies from antibiotics to herbicides that within 15 years of any new product coming on the market, there is a published case of resistance.

It is only a problem if we are planning on using that class of antibiotics in people.

Off-topic, not every paper that gets published in Nature or Science is necessarily backed by quality data.  That's why everyone needs to read and consider each paper carefully.

Unfortunately the review process doesn't immediately guard against fraud, but if the work is significant (and pretty much every Science and Nature paper is) other groups will try to repeat the data and the fraud will be exposed. I feel pretty good about the BGH studies since they have stood up to all these years of scrutiny.

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as for the IGF-1 issue -- see the following:

"NIH Technology Assessment Conference statement on bovine somatotropin"

in: JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). 1991 Mar 20;265(11):1423-5. which assesses the available literature (as a sidenote it notes that there was not conclusive data on BGH's effects on cows) and gives this pithy talking point....the amount of IGF-1 ingested (which by the way is completely broken down in your metabolism) in 1 liter of milk is equivalent to the amount IGF-1 in the saliva you swallow every day.

for a more recent source, see: WHO Food Additives Series No. 41.

also see: Daughaday, W, Barbano DM. "Bovine somatotropin supplementation of diary cows. JAMA. 1990; 264:1003-1005.

Finally, see http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/reprint/11/11/1441

(an article in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology) finding that women with the highest blood concentrations of IGF-1 are vegans who drink soy milk.

lets see some citations from the other side folks. time to put up or....

(btw, Deborah, the use of BGH increases milk production up to 25%, 10% is the lowball figure).

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Doc,

      Either accept the experts (authors and reviewers) opinion or read the various studies and come up with some criticisms. You should then submit a letter for publication in Science pointing out the flaws in the research.  Send a copy to me and, if I agree with them, I will gladly sign it along with you. 

I never said that I was qualified myself to specifically refute the article and I have repeatedly said that I was willing to concede the point as it is not central to my argument or concern.

You are basically saying that we should give your "faith based" argument greater weight than 45 years worth of scientific evidence.  I am not an expert in this field, but I am unbiased and I did actually read some of the research and found it quite convincing.

I never said anything of the sort. You persist in reading into what I am saying and trying to put words in my mouth. I am not saying that the product should be taken off the market or that because I have concerns and remain skeptical of the product and the motives of the company behind it that everyone else must follow suit. I do know, however, that as good as science has been and is, the whole concept is changing as the rules change due to the influence of industry and big business. The free flow of ideas is no longer what it was as there is now a much greater emphasis on the need for industrial secrets and the potential financial ramifications of information. This is big business and we must not kid ourselves otherwise. As such the intersts of business and the public are not always necessarily aligned. As such, I remain skeptical. That is different from me saying that the study is wrong. I have never said that nor could I as I do not have the specific expertise to make that assertion. My point is, it really matters little to the argument.

You may be right that "organic" milk is safer than that from BGH treated milk cows but the scientific evidence does not support your claims.

Where did I ever say that? I have repeatedly said that I am not advocating for the "organic" industry.

Regarding your lack of understanding of "relative risk", I was referring to your deciding that a product that has been exhaustively tested (BGH milk) is less safe than an untested product (Organic milk from various mutant dairy cows).

How are the "organic" dairy cows different than the ones to whom rBGH is given? Are the "organic" cows products of recombinant genetic engineering and therefore new breeds or breeds that have come around by virtue of time tested selection processes? Are the breeds used different or just the animal husbandry methods? I know where I live in upstate NY dairy country there are cows who are supplemented with rBGH and those not. The breeds used are essentially the same. It appears to me therefore that this is not a variable. Nevertheless, I will repeat that my argument has not been one of affirming the "organic" industry, simply questioning the potential ramifications of the product in question.

Why are you so concerned about the risk of the former but not the latter?  In these days of DNA sequencing shouldn't we be pushing for genetic monitoring of our livestock?  Is it possible that you are deeply biased and that this is influencing your risk assessment?  Do you think that all scientific evidence is so unreliable.

See above discussion. Of course I have biases. I do not know anyone who doesn't. My bias is not against science and the traditional free flow of ideas, however. I make my living using the products of advanced science. This also allows me to see its flaws first hand. I have seen numerous highly touted modalities be accepted until problems were subsequently discovered and the products either withdrawn or fallen into disfavor. I have also been upset when otherwise excellent products have been removed because of "risks" and politics. Vioxx and Bextra fall into that category and droperidol is another that has fallen into disfavor because of a perceived ridiculously small risk based upon an extremely flawed study and belies the long history of safe use of the drug. Of course, droperidol, a generic, was subsequently supplanted by much more expensive but no more efficacious drugs. Coincidence? Perhaps. If I have a bias it is in questioning the motives of industry and being skeptical of things that have huge potential ramifications. As big as Monsanto is and as pervasive as their products are becoming, I hope my concerns are off base and don't pan out. The consequences if the concerns are not raised and the potential consequences come to fruition are enormous, though. Thus I prefer to remain skeptical of the bigger picture.

Are there cases of Government "approved" drugs with highly deleterious effects, supported by questionable science?  Definitely, but of the ones I am aware of a review of the scientific literature makes these quite obvious. (N.B. Be especially cautious of vaccines).

See above. Politics and economics play a large part here as well. The problem isn't always that bad drugs are left on the market. It is also that good drugs get black-balled.

With a food product such as milk no level of real (not hypothetical) risk is acceptable because the benefit is so small.  Milk is NOT saving any lives.

I do not believe that something must "save lives" to justify some risk. After all, everything incurs somerisk. However, risk tolerance is a personal thing. Some people are willing to take some risks and not others. Raw milk products are a specific example. While raw milk under suboptimal conditions can be dangerous, so can "pasteurized" milk. This discussion if not already on anothe topic and I am sure it is, belongs on one. The point is, though, that there are various reasons for assuming risk. It is my belief that risks effecting predominantly one person or a small group of people should be assessed and handled by those directly effected. I do not feel that it is right to impose my values on them. Raw milk products can be made safely and they do have significant value to a lot of people who are willing to assume those risks. In a situation, such as the potential ramifications of widespread use of rBGH, this does not apply as ultimately everyone has the potential to be effected directly or indirectly to a significant degree.

Regarding antibiotic resistance:

When I worked in the Microbiology department in SmithKlineBeecham (now GSK) the general opinion (IIRC) was that vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus probably arose in Europe from antibiotic resistance being picked up from drug resistant Enterococcus faecalis in livestock.  Certainly the drug companies don't mind resistance to off-patent drugs cropping up, and it helps their business of selling new drugs.

Should we give prophylactic doses of antibiotics to our livestock?  I think this is again a case for careful "risk versus benefit" analysis.  I suspect that their are certain classes of drugs we should protect for human use alone (vancomycin is one example as it is the last defense against Staph), and others that will have no impact if used in cattle.

One of my favorite antibiotics (for purely scientific reasons) is bicyclomycin which is not used clinically in humans but has been used in cattle feed in Japan.  An antibiotic such as bicyclomycin poses no risk if overused, because it has too narrow of a spectrum for human use.  Perhaps we should use or develop highly selective antibiotics just for animal husbandry.

Should we pump cattle full of our latest and greatest antibiotics?  I don't think so.  Developing new classes of broad spectrum antibiotics has been very difficult, and so we should be cautious about developing drug resistant pathogens that will render them obsolete.

We are certainly not in complete disagreement here, although JSolomon answered this better than I can.

The studies showed that BGH raises IGF-1 levels in cattle. We are not worried so much about possible cancer risks in cattle as to affects on Humans which have been carefully evaluated.

Also the point that "They conclude that no rbGH can make it into the blood stream from an oral dose." is very controversial and most likely wrong.

No, they were unable to detect any rBGH in rats after giving large doses of rBGH orally (studies done by UpJohn, Monsanto and American Cyanamid). These confirmed that, as expected, there is no mechanism for the rBGH to be both protected from digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Even if you were right and a trace amount of rBGH from the tiny amount in the milk you consume made it into your blood stream, it couldn't possibly be significant compare to the many times larger amount of Human Growth Hormone present in your body. There is a ggo reason why the cattle are injected with rBGH rather than given it orally. It has no effect given orally.

While the paper is likely correct and the rBGH likely would be insignificant if ingested by and passed into the bloodstream of humans, your point is still flawed. rBGH is not a human hormone, therefore its effects on humans may not be the same as human growth hormone and are therefore somewhat unpredictable unless rigorously tested. Obviously a number of similar animal derived hormones such as insulin have been used in humans for years with similar effects of the native human hormones. While for many years the benefits of these hormones have generally outweighed the risks, their therapeutic benefits justified their use. Products such as porcine insulin, however, did involve long-term issues for those taking it, though. Nowadays recombinant derived human insulin has taken over with much better results (see, I am not anti-science or anti-molecular biology :raz: ). It is not unreasonable to suspect, therefore, that if trace amounts of rBGH or cattle IGF-1 made it chronically into the human blood stream that there might be long-term adverse consequences. I will repeat, that I am not saying this happens. I am simply stating my objection to your specific statement.

I do appreciate your efforts to keep your arguments to the subject and not the person with whom you are discussing the issues. I would still ask, however, that you refrain from trying to put words in my mouth or assign arguments to me that I am not making. :raz:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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a quick note: "rBGH is not a human hormone, therefore its effects on humans may not be the same as human growth hormone and are therefore somewhat unpredictable unless rigorously tested."

the first phrase is absolutely true. in fact, rBGH has no effect on humans, partially because humans do not have receptors for it.

Daughaday, W, Barbano DM. "Bovine somatotropin supplementation of diary cows." JAMA. 1990; 264:1003-1005

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a quick note: "rBGH is not a human hormone, therefore its effects on humans may not be the same as human growth hormone and are therefore somewhat unpredictable unless rigorously tested."

the first phrase is absolutely true.  in fact, rBGH has no effect on humans, partially because humans do not have receptors for it. 

Daughaday, W, Barbano DM. "Bovine somatotropin supplementation of diary cows." JAMA. 1990; 264:1003-1005

Not having receptors only means that it won't have a specific endocrine type effect. It can still have an immunologic effect. This can be unpredictable as well and vary potentially from person to person. That was one of the biggest problems with porcine insulin.

One question I have is based upon the mechanism of action of BGH. In humans the milk inducing hormone is prolactin, a hormone closely related to but different from human growth hormone. In cattle, it appears that BGH is the milk inducing hormone. Is that correct? What other effects does BGH have on cattle?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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"One question I have is based upon the mechanism of action of BGH. In humans the milk inducing hormone is prolactin, a hormone closely related to but different from human growth hormone. In cattle, it appears that BGH is the milk inducing hormone. Is that correct? "

I believe so.

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By extension, here is how I'm signing off of this.

rBGH is technology. Technology is bad and kills people. Even good people.

Anecdotal proof of why technology is bad and kills people.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Just because one doesn't trust the Monsanto Corporation to do what's best for humanity or the animal world out of the goodness of its nonexistant heart certainly doesn't mean one is in favour of a return to the cave. :rolleyes:

I wish all of the cattle could live a moocolic™ life and produce great quantities of joyful milk...but it's not like I'm running out to buy 40 acres and a ...cow.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Just because one doesn't trust the Monsanto Corporation to do what's best for humanity or the animal world out of the goodness of its nonexistant heart

I don't trust Monsanto, Lilly, American Cyamid, UpJohn, the FDA etc. but i think it is far more likely their research is accurate than that there is some giant globe spanning conspiracy involving the above organizations as well as the anti-BGH factions preventing any anti-BGH research from being published.

If non-BGH cows are healthier and have a better quality of life that is a good reason to choose their milk. There is no scientific data showing that it is healthier, nor even any decent theoretical argument as to why it might be safer.

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If non-BGH cows are healthier and have a better quality of life that is a good reason to choose their milk.  There is no scientific data showing that it is healthier, nor even any decent theoretical argument as to why it might be safer.

I can only conclude, because the studies say that rBGH cows are less healthy, i.e., with greater incidence of mastitis, etc., etc., that non-rBGH cows are more healthy.

Am I extrapolating too far?

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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If non-BGH cows are healthier and have a better quality of life that is a good reason to choose their milk.  There is no scientific data showing that it is healthier, nor even any decent theoretical argument as to why it might be safer.

I can only conclude, because the studies say that rBGH cows are less healthy, i.e., with greater incidence of mastitis, etc., etc., that non-rBGH cows are more healthy.

Am I extrapolating too far?

Have you actually seen these "studies"? Please post the references if you can find them so we can check them out.

Look what i just found on Medline:

Risk Anal. 1999 Aug;19(4):661-73.

A model of consumers' risk perceptions toward recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH): the impact of risk characteristics.

Grobe D, Douthitt R, Zepeda L.

Oregon State University, Corvallis 97330, USA.

This study estimates the effect risk characteristics, described as outrage factors by Hadden, have on consumers' risk perceptions toward the food-related biotechnology, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). The outrage factors applicable to milk from rbGH treated herds are involuntary risk exposure, unfamiliarity with the product's production process, unnatural product characteristics, lack of trust in regulator's ability to protect consumers in the marketplace, and consumers' inability to distinguish milk from rbGH treated herds compared to milk from untreated herds. An empirical analysis of data from a national survey of household food shoppers reveals that outrage factors mediate risk perceptions. The results support the inclusion of outrage factors into the risk perception model for the rbGH product, as they add significantly to the explanatory power of the model and therefore reduce bias compared to a simpler model of attitudinal and demographic factors. The study indicates that outrage factors which have a significant impact on risk perceptions are the lack of trust in the FDA as a food-related information source, and perceiving no consumer benefits from farmers' use of rbGH. Communication strategies to reduce consumer risk perceptions therefore could utilize agencies perceived as more trustworthy and emphasize the benefits of rbGH use to consumers.

A study on the anti-science kooks that reject the rBGH studies!

Edited by R Washburn (log)
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"I can only conclude, because the studies say that rBGH cows are less healthy, i.e., with greater incidence of mastitis, etc., etc., "

cites?

Oh, you thought I was pulling those numbers I have been talking about out of a big hat somewhere?

link

MASTITIS

An August 6, 1992 General Accounting Office (GAO) report found that FDA's review of rbGH had met all established guidelines and that bovine growth hormone did not appear to represent a direct human health risk. However, because rbGH-treated cows tended to have a small but significantly greater incidence of mastitis, GAO recommended that the degree to which antibiotics must be used to treat mastitis should be evaluated in rbGH-treated cows with respect to human food safety. In response to GAO's recommendation, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine convened its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee and other expert consultants for an open public hearing on March 31, 1993. The Committee concluded that, while rbGH treatment might cause a statistically significant increase in mastitis, the human health risk posed by the possible increased use of antibiotics to treat the mastitis was insignificant. Again, the recent JECFA report addressed the issue of antibiotic use associated with rbGH use. The Committee concluded "The use of rbGH would not result in a higher risk to human health due to the use of antibiotics to treat mastitis and that the increased potential for drug residues in milk could be managed by practices currently in use within the dairy industry and by following directions for use."

Whether or not it's good for the bovine production units to have to have more antibiotics, of course...

The Canadians came up with the following items:

link

-14.1 Efficacy

-14.1.1 Yield

-14.1.2 Composition

-14.2 Animal Safety

-14.2.1 Body Condition

-14.2.2 Mastitis

-14.2.3 Antibiotic Residues

-14.2.4 Reproductive Effects

-14.2.5 Lameness

-14.2.6 Other Health Effects

-14.2.7 Culling

-14.2.8 Animal Welfare

-14.3 Additional Information

I'm not going to quote it all, there is a lot, and there are items under each of the above headings, with loss of condition, increased mastitis, increased lameness, increased problems with reproduction, and on and on. The FDA thinks the Canadians are wrong in their conclusions. Whatever. Also, the Canadians find an average increase in milk production of between 11% and 15%, I haven't noticed that average 25% number anywhere...

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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If non-BGH cows are healthier and have a better quality of life that is a good reason to choose their milk.  There is no scientific data showing that it is healthier, nor even any decent theoretical argument as to why it might be safer.

I can only conclude, because the studies say that rBGH cows are less healthy, i.e., with greater incidence of mastitis, etc., etc., that non-rBGH cows are more healthy.

Am I extrapolating too far?

Have you actually seen these "studies"? Please post the references if you can find them so we can check them out.

Look what i just found on Medline:

Risk Anal. 1999 Aug;19(4):661-73.

A model of consumers' risk perceptions toward recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH): the impact of risk characteristics.

Grobe D, Douthitt R, Zepeda L.

Oregon State University, Corvallis 97330, USA.

This study estimates the effect risk characteristics, described as outrage factors by Hadden, have on consumers' risk perceptions toward the food-related biotechnology, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). The outrage factors applicable to milk from rbGH treated herds are involuntary risk exposure, unfamiliarity with the product's production process, unnatural product characteristics, lack of trust in regulator's ability to protect consumers in the marketplace, and consumers' inability to distinguish milk from rbGH treated herds compared to milk from untreated herds. An empirical analysis of data from a national survey of household food shoppers reveals that outrage factors mediate risk perceptions. The results support the inclusion of outrage factors into the risk perception model for the rbGH product, as they add significantly to the explanatory power of the model and therefore reduce bias compared to a simpler model of attitudinal and demographic factors. The study indicates that outrage factors which have a significant impact on risk perceptions are the lack of trust in the FDA as a food-related information source, and perceiving no consumer benefits from farmers' use of rbGH. Communication strategies to reduce consumer risk perceptions therefore could utilize agencies perceived as more trustworthy and emphasize the benefits of rbGH use to consumers.

A study on the anti-science kooks that reject the rBGH studies!

I take offense at your use of the word kooks, by the way.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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It looks like the FDA concluded that BGH injections did correlate with a slight increase in mastitis. However, this is also meaningless because anything done to increase milk yields increases the occurrence of mastitis. Dairy cattle bred for higher milk yields have increased incidence rates of mastitis. Dairy cows which are less stressed (presumably organic farmers seek to achieve this) produce more milk and have higher rates of mastitis incidence.

So, if your concern is really for their well-being, I would suggest ensuring that cows are as stressed as possible and producing as little milk as possible. A constant playing of Pantera concerts at a high volume should do the trick.

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It looks like the FDA concluded that BGH injections did correlate with a slight increase in mastitis.  However, this is also meaningless because anything done to increase milk yields increases the occurrence of mastitis.  Dairy cattle bred for higher milk yields have increased incidence rates of mastitis.  Dairy cows which are less stressed (presumably organic farmers seek to achieve this) produce more milk and have higher rates of mastitis incidence.

So, if your concern is really for their well-being, I would suggest ensuring that cows are as stressed as possible and producing as little milk as possible.  A constant playing of Pantera concerts at a high volume should do the trick.

Great. Thanks for the constructive comments.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Washburn it is a fallacy to assume that if a short term study shows no safety risk then a long term study is not warranted. This is what happened with DDT and other chemicals. The reason no long term studies have been done is because it would cripple the R&D budgets of corporations. There is always a trade off between allowing an "unsafe" product on the market early versus "assuring" that a product is safe through long term studies. The decision to use the short term study as the test for longer studies is based on economics not science. One must then gauge that risk for themselves.

As an aside just because an article is in Science do not assume the data has been verified

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