Bovine Somatotropin (BST)-Treated Milk

Bovine somatotropin (BST) or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) has been used to increase milk yields and thereby intensify the turning of feed into milk in the United States (Buttel 2000). The technology, known since 1930, was deemed safe for consumers but not for cows, because it caused increased level of mastitis, reproductive difficulties, and cow “burnout” (Buttel, 2000). Evidently, the technology seemed to exacerbate the overproduction of milk, to lower the prices, and cause a “shakeout” of family dairy farmers, while adding to environmental problems with manure disposal. Furthermore, while benefiting consumers by an average of $10 per annum only through milk purchases, the product was seen as generally safe; however, a minority of scientists expressed concerns about insulin-like growth factor-1 in this milk relative to non- treated cows' milk (Buttel, 2000). As reported by the author, larger anti-biotechnology movements, animal welfare and environmental groups, as well as various producer and consumer interest groups resisted this technology and insisted on greater consumer information. Governments responded by labeling the milk—such as “rBGH-free” Furthermore, labeling and governmental legislation, prohibiting product disparagement, turned to emphasize regional provenance, since most milk was actually produced without this technology, influencing the consumer rejection (Buttel 2000). Consequently, consumption of organic milk rose strongly, and political activism against the technology fueled cries of “Not in my body” (DuPuis 2000). In general, Buttel (2000) sees that policy makers have settled the struggle between various social movements and the industry. However, the companies and industrial groupings continue the struggle for or against genetically modified food companies, such as Ben & Jerry's, have committed to GM-free ingredients (Anonymous, 2015).

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