Healing Our World: Got Milk? I Hope Not

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

Got Milk? I Hope Not.

Speak out the paralyzing secret
and begin to come back to yourself.
Cry it out to compassionate ears
and be held in the hearts of your witnesses.

The truth shall make you free
but first it will shatter you.
What was broken can be mended,
what was lost, restored.
Find yourself, then,
pure and whole, a child of God.
Look back long enough to let go.
-- Alla Renee Bozarth

In a powerful blow to chemical giant Monsanto, Canada rejected the use of the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH) last week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of BGH in 1993, ignoring protests that the drug harmed animals and posed a significant risk to milk consumers.

Canada, however, has heeded the significant scientific data that shows animals using BGH suffer an 18 percent increase in the risk of infertility, a 50 percent increase in the risk of lameness and, most importantly, a 25 percent higher risk of developing mastitis, a painful infection of the udder. Cows given the drug have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed by their owners because they become too weak and debilitated.

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Cow receiving an injection (Photo courtesy Humane Farming Association http://www.hfa.org/cows.asp)
The weakened animals are usually treated with antibiotics, which studies have shown appear in the milk. As people consume more and more meat and dairy products tainted with powerful antibiotics and are having antibiotics over-prescribed by doctors, they build up a resistance to these drugs. Many scientists feel that we have already reached a time when many antibiotics are useless against infections and soon, even the strongest ones will have no effect.

BGH is used by 13,000 dairy producers in the U.S. and countless more in Mexico and Brazil where it has been in use for over a decade. In 1998, Monsanto sold over 100 million doses of the drug at a cost of $5.80 per dose - that is over a half a billion dollars. This is a huge business with an audience that is very concerned with rising competition and low profits - the world's dairy farmers.

This is a classic example of a drug that makes no sense whatsoever in today's world. America's dairy industry has been producing more milk than it could sell for years. The U.S. government has been subsidizing dairy farmers for a long time, buying up surpluses in order to keep the prices artificially high. These subsidies cast a terrible shame on the U.S. as women, men and children die every day from hunger while so-called excess milk is dumped down the drain.

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BGH induced swollen legs and mastitis (Photo courtesy Humane Farming Association)
In spite of the overproduction of milk, 30 percent of the dairy cows in the U.S. are given the hormone. Monsanto markets the drug by attracting small producers with the promise that they could produce the same amount of milk with a smaller herd, thus saving money.

Monsanto, a company that has given the world Agent Orange (2,4,5-T), PCB's and scores of pesticides that many studies show are carcinogenic, has been accused of considerable behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get its products approved amid concerns about their safety. Rachelís Environment and Health Weekly reported in 1994 that the FDA official responsible for the agency's labeling policy, Michael R. Taylor, is a former partner of King & Spaulding, the Washington, DC law firm that brought lawsuits against farmers on behalf of Monsanto. The farmers had tried to label their milk hormone-free.

In February 1997, Monsanto sent a letter to a FOX TV station in Tampa Florida, threatening "dire consequences" if the station aired a documentary two of its reporters had produced on the dangers of BGH and the deceitful activities of Monsanto. The station canceled the showing. The documentary would have revealed that the FDA never properly tested BGH. The hormone was tested for 90 days on 30 rats, while human drug studies normally take two years.

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Cover of book by Robert Cohen (Photo from http://www.notmilk.com/thebook.asp)
Even the results of this inadequate study would have told much, but the FDA refused to release the results. They have never been released. Robert Cohen, author of the book "Milk, The Deadly Poison," sued the FDA to obtain a copy of this study. He lost and the FDA and the courts agreed that the public should never see the report because it would "irreparably harm Monsanto."

Accusations have been made that six scientists in Canada were pressured to approve BGH in spite of their fears. One scientist told a Canadian Senate committee that Monsanto had offered scientists a bribe of research grants if they approved the hormone. Monsanto denies these allegations.

BGH results in the production of another hormone (IGF-1) which is suspected of causing cancer. A Harvard University research team studied 15,000 white men in 1997 and found that those with elevated levels of IGF-1 in their systems were four times more likely to get prostate cancer. Some claim that this fact would have been revealed in the 1993 study that the FDA suppressed.

BGH is a classic example of corporate greed and a tainted U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The history of the FDA, as reported at its own web site, is complex, yet it does suggest clues as to why the agency seems to have such difficulty regulating substances today.

It was first formed in 1927 as the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration. The U.S. had finally taken steps to remove some of the toxic substances that were present in many products and foods. The agency did not really get serious until 1937 when 107 people, mostly children, were killed after ingesting an elixir that contained a poisonous solvent. The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act began regulating substances, but the responsibility for ensuring public safety was given to the manufacturer of the product. That legacy lives on. Bear in mind that until 1940, the FDA was part of the Department of Agriculture, whose job it was to promote agricultural practices and to promote substances like chemical food additives and pesticides.

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Cow in a cage (Photo courtesy U.S. Agricultural Research Service http://www.ars.usda.gov/
But a deeper problem is revealed by these events, a problem that goes beyond the secret deals with scientists and government agencies. That problem is the hopelessness that you and I - the consumers of these products - often feel. We are actually the ones who have the power to stop this, yet it is hard to take seriously the constant onslaught of negative information about our tainted air, water, food, and earth. It is easy to believe that we are being taken care of by our leaders. Sadly, this is not, and may never have been, true.

We must constantly question any additive or genetically engineered product, especially foods. I would suggest assuming that adequate studies will not be done due to the way the regulatory agencies are organized.

This is actually an easy task. All you have to do is consume foods with as few additives as possible. Eat as little meat and dairy products as you can. If you have no other health problems, try eliminating them all for a month and see how you feel.

Make a habit out of reading labels and simply choose the product with the fewest ingredients and no artificial anything. You may pay a few pennies more, but it is a small price to pay for repairing the Earth and your body.

And the next time the TV commercial says "Got Milk?" answer proudly, "No, not me."

RESOURCES

1. Read about the documentary that Monsanto pressured the Florida television station to cancel at http://www.monitor.net/rachel/r593.asp

2. Visit the website maintained by the reporters whose story was cancelled by the FOX TV affiliate at http://www.foxbghsuit.com/

3. Read the Canadian government's news release announcing the rejection of the hormone at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/archives/releases/99_03e.htm

4. Read a secret Canadian government report that was leaked by scientists who said they were pressured by Monsanto at http://www.foxbghsuit.com/jasw1007.htm

5. Visit a great list that tells what you can do to help this issue at http://www.foxbghsuit.com/index2.htm

6. For a full account of the Monsanto lawsuit against dairy farmers See Rachelís Environment and Health Weekly Issue #381 at http://www.monitor.net/rachel/r381.asp

7. Read the history of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on its website at http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7history.asp

8. The animal protein in milk and other dairy and meat products has been shown to cause osteoporosis and cancer. Learn about these issues from EarthSave at http://earthsave.org/intl/news/index.htm

9. Learn more about the problems with milk at the Not Milk website at http://www.notmilk.com/

10. Learn about four NEW food groups at http://vegsource.com/food_groups.htm

11. If you must consume milk, search out brands such as Horizon and organic milk by Alta Dena Dairy. Both claim to be hormone-free. You can find these brands at many major supermarkets.

12. Learn of the work of Dr. John McDougall who can easily convince you that eating meat and dairy products is hazardous to your health. His web site is at http://www.drmcdougall.com/index.asp

13. Join the Humane Farming Association at http://www.hfa.org/index.asp

14. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them, urging them to investigate Monsanto and ban BGH. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.asp or you can search by state at http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.asp You can also find your representatives at http://congress.nw.dc.us/innovate/index.asp

15. Learn about the issues. Seek out books on the subject. A good source for used (and new) books is Powellís Bookstore in Portland, Oregon at http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/associate?assoc_id=212 where you will find a wonderful alternative to the massive chain bookstores taking over the market.

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Visit the Healing Our World Archive and check out the many resource links in past articles.

[Jackie Giuliano, Ph.D., can be found in Venice, California, happy that he chose a vegan lifestyle five years ago. He is a Professor of Environmental Studies for Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Phoenix Southern California Campuses. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his web site at http://www.deepteaching.com]