Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got (genetically engineered) milk? The Beacon Journal believes you should

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 2:13 PM

Sorry, cow, but we're gonna need a drug test.
On Saturday, The Akron Beacon Journal ran a story about how consumer demand for artificial hormone-free milk is changing the look of dairy departments. No longer will health conscious folks have to run to Whole Foods for the overpriced organic stuff. Within the next few weeks, chains like Giant Eagle and Krogers will carry milk from cows that haven’t been injected with rbST, the artificial hormone that helps cows produce more milk. To most, this would seem to be excellent news. No matter what the government says, consumers have long feared anything with the words “artificial hormones” in the ingredients, since they don’t want their kids to start growing moustaches in the first grade. Yet Beacon reporter Rick Armon doesn’t appear to see it that way… Armon’s story seems to assert that the rebellion against artificial hormones is actually a bad thing, since it could drive up prices and threaten the livelihoods of dairy farmers. And as for the health risks posed by artificial hormones, there supposedly aren’t any. “The public has been duped into believing the hormone isn't safe, according to many farmers and dairy experts,” Armon writes. He backs up his claim by stating that the FDA declared rbST safe over a decade ago. But trusting the FDA has never been a good call. From cancer-causing aspartame to stroke-inducing Vioxx, the agency has a tendency to put business above health. In 1993, the Monsanto Corporation, the leading manufacturer of rbST, conducted a 90-day study on 30 lab rats. The study was never published, and though Canadian health officials cited numerous issues with the research, the FDA had no problem declaring the genetically engineered hormone safe. Since then, it hasn’t just been paranoid hippies decrying the FDA’s move. Everyone from the U.S. General Accounting Office to the Consumer Union have been warning about the potential hazards of consuming rbST-laced milk. Numerous medical studies have linked it to breast and prostate cancer. Canada and the European Union have banned the use of the hormone. But aside from all the fancy reports and international regulation, plain old common sense dictates that artificial hormones probably aren’t a great diet supplement. – Denise Grollmus

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