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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Got Milk?

Did you know, in the United States, we produce more milk than we need? Our government purchases the surplus and provides the farmers with a subsidy, so that they can keep working hard to feed us.

Monsanto, an agricultural, chemical corporate giant, the pioneering force behind DDT, aspartame and Agent Orange is also the creator of Bovine Growth Hormone (a.k.a. rBGH or rBST). Monsanto is the creator and, up until they sold it as Posilac, they were the sole owner and had a monopoly on the drug. Want to know what it is? RBGH is a genetically engineered product designed to mimic some of a cow’s natural hormones. Cows that receive the hormone get it every two weeks, and it causes the old hard working girl to produce about an extra gallon of milk per day. So far, rBGH milk has been on the market, with FDA approval, for about 15 years.

Unfortunately, the hard working girls/cows don’t go unaffected. The cows exposed to (injected with) rBGH have “increases in cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus,” “decreases in gestations length and birth weight of calves” and “increased risk of clinical mastitis.” In other words, cysts, premature calves that weigh less than they should, and an infection in their udders that is very painful, creates milk that has pus and bacteria in it (that you drink) and requires antibiotics that are also transferred to the milk you drink.

Umhm, that is totally gross.

Sometimes the cows even get a kind of mastitis that the farmer can’t see, and they aren’t able to treat. Translation: more pus. Eew! The old girls given rBGH actually only live about two years after their injections begin (a non rBGH cow lives 4-10 years longer), and they can even suffer lameness as a result. Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have actually banned the use of the hormone in their cows.

Want to know what it does to humans? Over exposure to antibiotics can cause immunities; Exposure doesn’t just have to come from the prescription the doctor writes either. Secondly, rBGH milk has ten times more IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor); IGF-1 is shown to help pre-menopausal (young!) women develop breast cancer, a rarity in the past. The risk for prostate and colon cancer also rise as a person consumes more rBGH milk. Not only does it affect rates of cancer, but it can affect the entire endocrine system, responsible for metabolism, and growth and development, including puberty.

If that leaves you thinking, “What about the farmers?” Our taxpayer dollars, which there are never enough of, go to pay for that surplus of milk. More milk equals more tax dollars, which usually goes to the big dairy farmers, processors and Monsanto. Not to the small dairy farmer. More milk also means lower prices of milk, which is great for us, the consumer, but very, very difficult for the small dairy farmer who gets very few subsidies, or maybe even no subsidies.

Wondering what you can do? Vote with your dollars. Vote for your health. Vote for the cows’ health and the small farmer. Look for rBGH or rBST or hormone free milk (or organic milk if you can afford it!). It isn’t any more expensive, and the label on the front of the carton will proudly proclaim its safety (rBGH free!). And it won’t even cost you any more to get it.

Want to know more about genetically modified products? Pick up Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth. Not sure how you feel? Leave a comment here, and let’s discuss together! Trust me, you are not alone!

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