Growth Hormone-Containing Food: What You Need to Know

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By now, you have probably encountered the debate over growth hormones in food on the news, so as a concerned health-minded consumer, what do you really need to know? If you eat beef or drink cow's milk, read the short history of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), below to educate yourself on its potential hazards so that you can make the most informed purchases possible. After all, what you put inside your body affects everything else in your life.

A Quick and Dirty History of rBGH

The growth hormone that most people are referring to when they talk about meat and dairy products is rBGH or rBST. These acronyms stand for recombinant bovine growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin. Basically, it is a synthesized (artificial) hormone created by agricultural powerhouse Monsanto.

The scientists at Monsanto used recombinant D.N.A. technology to create a hormone that is the copy of the naturally-occurring one found in cows. It is patented and its name is Prosilac.

Monsanto has been in the news a lot lately. For instance, in January of this year, the Huffington Post reported that the Swiss research firm Covalence released its annual ranking of the overall ethical performance of multinational companies. Monsanto was voted the number 1 spot at "The Least Ethical Company in the World."

Use of rBGH is not the only reason that Monsanto was voted to this spot. They also have a history of suing small, independent farmers for patent infringement when they are found to be using Monsanto's genetically-engineered seed.

You see, when naturally-occurring items like seeds are genetically engineered and patented and then found on another farmer's lot, this could be seen as theft of property.

Now that you know a little about the company that produces rBGH, we will move onto how it affects cows. RBGH is injected into cows right before their lactate threshold is reached so that they can continue to produce milk far beyond the time period it would naturally occur.