Saturday, September 6th, 2008
Monsanto’s announcement that it is selling the controversial genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, is hailed as a major milestone in an effort to remove the product from the food supply. According to Rick North, Campaign for Safe Food program director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This is a strong indication that Monsanto is finding this embattled hormone more trouble than it’s worth. rBGH [Posilac] is proving to be an embarrassment to Monsanto.”
Monsanto entered into an agreement to sell rBGH to drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company for $300 million.
Over the past few years, increasing numbers of dairy processors and major retailers have banned the use of rBGH in their dairy products: Wal-Mart, Costco, Kroger, Safeway stores in the Northwest, and Publix Super Markets. Most of the milk sold by Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk processor and distributor is rBGH-free. Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill have also said no to rBGH milk. Kraft Foods even recently started promoting a cheese product as rBGH-free.
Monsanto has been fighting a losing battle to force food manufacturers to remove rBGH-free labels from dairy products. The company tried to get the FDA and Federal Trade Commission to make these labels illegal. Monsanto lobbied state governments to pass bills banning the labels, but had little success.
While the FDA asserts the product is safe, many other governments, scientists, and consumer groups disagree. Milk from cows injected with rBGH contains high levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone that has been linked to prostate and colon cancer.
Based on independent scientific evidence, Canada, 28 European member states, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Japan have all banned the use and import of rBGH milk and dairy products.
Samuel Epstein, M.D., professor of environmental medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, said:
rBGH poses an even greater risk to human health than ever considered. The FDA and Monsanto have a lot to answer for. Given the cancer risks and other health concerns, why is rBGH milk still on the market?
The good news is that consumers’ rejection of rBGH has forced Monsanto to abandon this dangerous drug. We are making a difference.
However, this doesn’t mean that Posilac is going away yet. Eli Lilly said it is ready to take on the task of promoting Posilac as a farming tool that can boost milk supplies for a world hungry for more dairy products. Now they will continue the corporate spin. Let’s continue to buy rBGH-free dairy products. Don’t financially support Eli Lilly and their decision to continue polluting the milk supply with this dangerous drug.