Pennsylvania Governor Rethinks Milk Labeling Rule for rBST

Friday, February 22, 2008 by: Teri Lee Gruss
Tags: milk labeling, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell recently overruled a decision by PA Secretary of Agriculture, Dennis Wolff to ban "hormone-free" milk labeling. State residents en masse, let their legislators know that the milk label ruling set to take effect on January 1, 2008 was not in their best interest.

In October of 2007 Pennsylvania Ag Secretary Wolff ruled that milk free of recombinant somatotropin (rBST) could not be labeled as such. rBST is also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). See Dr.Emily Kane's article Pennsylvania Bans rBGH-Free Labels On Dairy Products 12/13/2007
( .

The labeling controversy of rBST/rBGH -free milk is not new. Monsanto has legally disputed the rights of hormone-free dairies to make hormone-free label claims for years. The FDA approved the use of Monsanto's recombinant BST in 1994, which is used to increase milk production in dairy cows.

What does recombinant mean?

The genetic material produced when segments of DNA from different sources are joined to produce recombinant DNA, resulting from new combinations of genetic material~ Random House

An organism or cell in which genetic recombination has taken place. Material produced by genetic engineering~ American Heritage

Americans have been drinking genetically engineered milk for over thirteen years.

Should we be concerned about this? Should consumers, through labeling laws, have a right to choose whether they want to serve their families genetically modified dairy foods including milk, cheeses and ice cream or dairy foods from non treated cows?

Or should the practice of treating dairy herds with rBST be banned in the U.S. as it is in Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and most European Union countries? Most people, with the exception of those representing Monsanto and the FDA, would likely say YES to all of the above.

The recombinant hormone industry claims that their hormones are "supplements" and bioidentical to hormones normally produced by cows.

According to an article on Say No to rBGH - "Injections of rBGH increase another powerful hormone, called IGF-1, in the cow and the cow's milk. Numerous studies indicate that IGF-1 survives digestion. Too much IGF-1 in humans is linked with increased rates of colon, breast, and prostate cancer".

IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor.

Samuel Epstein MD, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University Of Illinois School Of Public Health. He authored GOT (Genetically Engineered) MILK! The Monsanto rBGH/BST Milk Wars Handbook (2001) and says that rBGH is different that naturally occurring BGH in milk.

rBGH milk is a genetically modified product.

According to Dr. Epstein, "The hormone itself is unarguably a GE variant of normal BGH with distinct molecular, chemical, and immunological differences".

Dr. Epstein says that "rBGH milk differs from natural milk in a wide range of parameters including nutritional, biochemical, pharmacological, immunological and hormonal, besides being contaminated with the GE hormone itself, excess levels of IGF-1 including a highly potent variant, and sometimes pus and antibiotics".

In the article Think Before You Drink, Ben Davis says that in a 1990 Science magazine article FDA scientists acknowledged that rBGH milk had higher levels of IGF-1 that non rBGH milk. Mr. Davis also says that scientists at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly found a ten fold increase in IFG-1 concentration in rBGH treated milk.

David said that "Contrary to industry and FDA propaganda, IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization and that several FDA scientists acknowledged that pasteurization instead substantially increases IGF-1 levels in milk and that IGF-1 is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall". According to Davis, Monsanto was aware of this back in 1987.

The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated: "Further studies will be required to determine whether the ingestion of higher than normal concentrations of bovine insulin-like growth factor is safe for children, adolescents and adults."

So far no such studies have been funded or designed.

This is why labeling laws are in the public's long term interest.

It is disturbing to think that every day in America millions and millions of children drink rBGH milk while there is strong scientific debate regarding its long term safety.

The overturned milk labeling rule in Pennsylvania illustrates that when people demand that their legislators act in the name of public interest, positive results are possible.

However, in Pennsylvania as in other states, the new labels must carry the following statement, "No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST-treated cows."

How this statement is interpreted depends on how you perceive the meaning of significant differences. Elevated concentration of IGF-1, a potential cancer stimuli is a genuinely distinct and significant difference!

Isn't it in our best long term health interest to demand that our legislators require full labeling disclosures for all genetically modified and, now, meat from cloned origins?


Editorial | Milk and Health: Don't ban 'hormone-free' label Wed, Jan. 2, 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer (


What compelled Sam Epstein to write GOT (Genetically Engineered) MILK!




Prosser, C. G., Fleet I. R., A. N. Corps. "Increased secretion of insulin-like growth factor 1 into milk of cows treated with recombinantly derived bovine growth hormone." Journal of Dairy Research 56(1):17-26, 1989


About the author

Teri Lee Gruss, MS Human Nutrition

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