Study Claims Bovine Growth Hormone Good for Environment

Image: Cow with mastitis (Monica Morgan on Flickr)

Just because the cow moos, doesn't mean that it's over. Thanks to giant chains such as Wal-Mart, Safeway and Kroger announcing recently that they would no longer carry milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), Monsanto — biotech giant and exploiter of genes extraordinaire — then announced in early August that it would be selling the rights to its Posilac brand of rBGH.

Commentators were celebrating prematurely, until Monsanto announced that Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant with even more money than the GE multinational, would be snapping Posilac up for $300 million. Now comes the predictable public relations spin— that bovine growth hormone is good for the environment.Really?
In a peer-reviewed, but rather questionable study just put out by a team of scientists, it is claimed that rBGH "to improve productive efficiency and to have less negative effects on the environment than conventional dairying." Mostly, because the dairy industry could milk less cows, use less land, feed, etc. for more milk.

OK — what about animal and human health concerns?
Forget the fact that a combination of studies that have shown bovine growth hormone is linked to a 40 percent decrease in cow fertility. Forget the fact that rBGH allows cows to be over-milked as they produce up to ten times more milk than normal, translating to a 25 percent increase in mastitis (udder infections that can cause bits of pus to go into the milk) — which means that diary farms have to inject massive amounts of antibiotics into dairy cows. Forget even the fact that millions of consumers — thanks to Monsanto's fight to keep rBGH-milk unlabelled — drink this kind of milk unknowingly.

We're all for studies, except that this one comes with a "conflict of interest" statement in the footnotes of the front page, stating that one of the study's four authors is a full-time employee and stakeholder in Monsanto, while another is a Monsanto consultant. Even the peer reviewer, David H. Baker, an animal-health scientist at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has connections with Eli Lilly as its senior scientist from 1965 to 1967.

On top of all this, forget the fact that this kind of slippery "science," backed by the corporate interests poised to profit most from it, is part of the same revolving door system that allowed rBGH to be approved by the FDA without a full long-term health assessment in the first place. In light of all this and other contrary evidence, even if they proclaim that it's good for human health and the environment, there's no amount of deceptive "science" that will make it seem anything other than another case of washing it green.

::Gristmill
via Environment Report
Related Links on Bovine Growth Hormone and Monsanto
Monsanto Dumping Bovine Growth Hormone
Wal-Mart To Monsanto 'No Thanks For The Bovine Growth Hormone
Monstrous Harvest: "The World According to Monsanto" Movie Review
Monsanto and Michael Pollan Talk About Creating a World That Can Feed Itself
Astroturf Alert: Afact Fights Absence Labeling
rBGH: Anything but Green (Food & Water Watch)

Tags: Animals | Cattle | Genetic Engineering | GMO | Greenwashing | United States

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