- Bovine human growth hormone. This synthetic hormone (rBGH or rBST), developed by Monsanto and sold under the brand name Posilac, boosts milk output in dairy cattle and weight gain in beef cattle and is widely used in conventional animal husbandry here in America. However, there are many detrimental side effects to this artificial hormone's use in cows. According to the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, those side effects include reduced pregnancy rates, abnormal milk, hoof disorder and increased infections in the animals. The study states, “Cows treated with rBST face a nearly 25% increase in the risk of clinical mastitis, a 40% reduction in fertility and 55% increase risk of lameness.” In this conventional scenario, the artificial hormone increase the milk production which increases the infections and disease in the animal, which then leads to an increase of antibiotic use which further depletes the animal and produces antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's a vicious cycle and we all are worse off for it.
- Most countries won't touch rBGH. This artificial hormone is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and all 27 countries in the European Union. According to the U.N.'s food safety body, there is no consensus that rBGH is safe for human health. Why is it so prevalent here?
- RBGH has detrimental effects on humans. Since its approval in 1993, three health trends have emerged in this country: obesity, early puberty onset and increased breast, colorectal and prostate cancer rates. Milk from cows treated with rBGH has higher levels of Insulin like growth factor (IGF-1), which is linked directly to tumor development. Along with other factors, like exposure to BPA (found in hard plastic, dental sealant and cash register receipts, to name a few) the unnecessary ingestion of this artificial hormone can be devastating.
- Antibiotic overuse. Increased antibiotic use in factory farms leads to animals with reduced immune systems. For example, the cow is injected with artificial growth hormones, which leads to a hoof disorder which is treated by antibiotics and now the meat you're eating has residues of both drugs. It is generally agreed upon by the scientific community that overuse of antibiotics leads to resistant bacteria, and the increase of “superbugs” had been increasing exponentially. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention have estimated that, in the U.S. alone, over 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year are caused by highly resistant bacteria. Those numbers do not include deaths from conditions that are complicated by superbug bacterial infections.
- Pesticides. These synthetic chemicals evolved from World War II weapons like nerve poison and mustard gas. After the war, manufacturers needed new customers so started marketing the poisons as a way to kill insects, fungi, bacteria and undesirable plants (“weeds”). Especially dangerous to children because of their low body weights and high metabolisms, there is substantial evidence that pesticides can cause nervous system disorders, reproductive system damage, disruption of hormonal systems, birth defects, low sperm counts and testicular cancer. There are over 600 registered pesticides in use today in the U.S. and in 2000, 940 million pounds of chemical pesticides were used, more than 3 pounds for every person in the country.
Eating organic food is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Disease prevention, a higher quality of life and a sustainable environment are all desirable side effects of eating organic food. Organic meat and dairy products comes from animals not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones; they eat organic food without GMOs, artificial pesticides or fertilizers. This month, we're focusing on the benefits of eating organic meats and dairy products. If you can't afford to eat all organic all the time, at least choose organic meats and dairy products; here's why:
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.