Scientific Panel Rejects NY Green Party Claims Regarding rBGH Milk Safety

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Scientists associated with the New York City Advisory Council on Health Priorities, a new affiliate of the American Council on Science and Health, reject a recent call by the NY Green Party to ban milk from cows injected with rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) from New York City schools. But-as ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan points out-NY Green's claims are in opposition to the actual facts on rBGH milk.

rBGH is a hormone that increases milk production in cows. The Green Party's claims are based on distortions of the scientific facts on rBGH milk safety. The party's position on rBGH offers sweeping, alarming (and scientifically insupportable) statements and in fact reflects a much broader political agenda than a simple concern with milk in schools. The Green Party claims-and the facts-are as follows:

  • CLAIM: Injection of rBGH causes health problems for cows. (The NY Greens have called rBGH "crack" for cows.)
  • FACT: A review of hundreds of studies did not find a single one linking rBGH with increased ill health in cows.
  • CLAIM: rBGH increases the incidence of mastitis (inflammation of the udder); the use of antibiotics to treat the mastitis results in antibiotic residues in the milk. These residues cause impairment of the immune systems of children who drink the milk and encourage the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
  • FACT: There is a small positive association between milk yield and mastitis. This is not due to rBGH; it is a result of the increase in milk yield. Furthermore, the FDA requires that any animal treated with antibiotics be kept out of milk production during the treatment period and for a certain period of time after treatment has ended.
  • CLAIM: rBGH increases the amount of Insulin Growth Factor (another hormone found in milk); IGF is linked to cancers, hypertension, juvenile diabetes, and other disorders.
  • FACT: The Insulin Growth Factor in milk does not pose a risk, because it is a protein and is digested like all other dietary proteins. Digestion destroys any hormonal activity.
  • CLAIM: Cows receiving rBGH require more protein in their diets, which may speed up the spread of so-called "mad cow disease."
  • FACT: Cows receiving rBGH eat more, but the nutrient composition of the diet does not need to be modified. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to link rBGH with "mad cow disease."
  • CLAIM: Giving cows rBGH increases the fat content and decreases the protein content of their milk and shortens its shelf life.
  • FACT: Giving cows rBGH does not change the composition or wholesomeness of their milk in any way, nor does it affect the amount of rBGH found in the milk.

According to Cindy F. Kleiman, Coordinator of Toxicology Projects for ACSH, the real agenda of the NY Greens can be seen in their statements on the immorality of agribusiness and their unfounded claims that the use of bio-engineered products disrupts the ecological balance of the planet. In fact, injected rBGH is safe. Furthermore, by increasing the efficiency of feed utilization (with rBGH more milk and less manure are produced per unit of feed consumed), the use of rBGH actually reduces environmental pollution from dairy operations. Based on the scientific evidence, there is no reason to ban rBGH from New York City's schools.