Environmental and Occupational Health
rBGH in Milk
The Massachusetts "Know Your Milk" Campaign
An open letter from: Judy Norsigian (Our Bodies Ourselves); Deborah Shields (Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition); Rita Arditti and Margo Golden (Women’s Community Cancer Project); Amy Agigian (Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University); and Ellie Goldberg (Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics).
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As health and food safety advocates, we are concerned about the use of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) in dairy products in Massachusetts.
Inspired by the Physicians for Social Responsibility's successful "KNOW YOUR MILK" campaign to stop the use of rBGH by major milk suppliers in Oregon, the goals of the Massachusetts' "KNOW YOUR MILK” campaign are to educate the public about the connection of rBGH to breast cancer and other cancers in humans, to urge producers to label dairy products, and to advocate that schools, hospitals, and other institutions eliminate rBGH from the dairy products they serve.
Background: In 1993, Monsanto, the chemical company, introduced rBGH, a genetically modified hormone that is injected into cows to increase milk production by 5-15%.
The Problems: rBGH causes elevated levels of a powerful insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in milk, thus increasing the risk of breast, prostate, colon, lung, and other cancers. rBGH also increases udder infections in cows so dairy products from rGBH-treated cows contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.
According to a survey funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 95 percent of Americans said milk from cows injected with rBGH should be labeled and 74 percent said they had concerns about the long-term health effects of milk produced using rBGH. However, millions of people in the United States are unknowingly consuming rBGH dairy products. After pressure from Monsanto the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that dairy products from rBGH treated cows do not require a label.
Increasingly, consumers around the country are saying "no" to rBGH products.
- As of January 1st 2008, Starbuck's milk is rBGH free.
- Kroger (a giant supermarket chain in the Midwest), Publix (a Florida supermarket chain), Wal-Mart and others do not use milk from rBGH-treated cows in their store brand products.
- Health Care Without Harm's Healthy Food in Hospitals project is working with hospitals around the country to eliminate rBGH dairy products from their facilities.
To join the Massachusetts "KNOW YOUR MILK" campaign send an email to email@example.com.
Thank you to Oregon's Physicians for Social Responsibility Campaign for the name "KNOW YOUR MILK" and to Rick North, campaign director, for inspiration and support.
Last revised: Apr 2008
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