| RBGH |
|Bovine growth hormone to increase milk production. Bad for cows, not to great for humans either.|
Bovine somatotropin or bovine somatotrophin (BST), or bovine growth hormone (BGH), is a peptide hormone produced by cows' pituitary glands. Recombinant bovine somatotropin (usually "rBST"), developed by Monsanto, is a synthetic version of the bovine growth hormone given to dairy cattle by injection to increase milk production.
It has been used in the United States since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993. The World Health Organisation stating that meat and dairy products from cows treated with rBST is safe. Despite this, the use of bovine somatotropin has been banned on animal welfare grounds in the EU and Canada.
Milk from cows treated with rBGH contains higher levels of IGF-1. The American Cancer Society reports early studies linked IGF-1 as a contributor to tumor development, specifically breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. While research has not clarified the connection, continuing efforts support these studies.
Cows given rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an inflammation and infection of mammary tissue. This concern was one of the reasons the European Union and other countries banned it. rBGH also causes a wide range of health concerns for cows, requiring the use of antibiotics.
In 1996, journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson began investigating rBGH. As investigative reporters for the Fox Television affiliate in Tampa, Florida, they discovered that millions of Americans were unknowingly drinking milk from rBGH-treated cows.
They documented how the hormone, which can harm cows, was approved by the government as a veterinary drug without adequately testing its effects on children and adults who drink rBGH milk. They also uncovered studies linking its effects to cancer in humans. Just before broadcast, the station canceled the widely promoted reports after Monsanto, the hormone manufacturer, threatened Fox News with “dire consequences” if the stories aired.
Under pressure from Fox lawyers, the husband-and-wife team rewrote the story more than 80 times. After threats of dismissal and offers of six-figure sums to drop their ethical objections and keep quiet, they were fired in December 1997. In 1998, Akre won a suit against Fox for violating Florida’s Whistleblower Law, which makes it illegal to retaliate against a worker who threatens to reveal employer misconduct. However, they were forced to defend the $425,000 awarded to Akre through the appeals process.ref name=goldmanprize/>