GENET archive


1-Proteins: About rBST use in South Africa

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  'Crack for cows' could be bad for you, too
SOURCE: The Star, South Africa, by Penny Sukhraj
        file attached: newspic433107fdb0a5a.jpg
DATE:   21 Sep 2005

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picture 1: newspic433107fdb0a5a.jpg
Safe choice: Woolworths' Ayrshire milk is the only milk on the market
that is free of the rBST hormone. Photo: Thys Dullaart, The Star

'Crack for cows' could be bad for you, too

The next time you pour some milk into your coffee, you could be taking a
gulp of a cancer-causing hormone.

The hormone rBST - known as "crack for cows" - is being injected into
cattle whose milk could contain lethal hormones responsible for cancerous
cell growth in human tissue.

While rBST has been banned in Canada and the European Union, South
African dairy farmers still use it, and about two million doses of the
hormone are sold annually.

Farmers use it because it boosts milk production by about 10 to 15 percent.

Unless your milk is certified "rBST-free", it's likely that you are
drinking milk with cancer-causing hormones.

Although the bovine growth hormone occurs naturally in cows, the higher
level of the hormone causes an increase of the IGF-1 (insulin-like
growth) hormone in the milk.

Countless studies have shown that increased levels of IGF-1 increase the
risk of contracting numerous cancers, including breast, prostate, lung,
colon and smooth-muscle cancers.

Environmental researcher Glenn Ashton said the studies showed that the
IGF-1 hormone rose up to 360 percent in the milk of cows given rBST.

"The problem is that the hormone is instrumental in controlling cell
growth, and uncontrolled cell growth shows up as cancer. IGF-1 is not
killed in the pasteurisation process but it emerges intact in the milk we
drink," said Ashton.

IGF-1 is more readily absorbed when consumed in the presence of casein,
the main milk protein.

Milk SA chairperson Koos Pienaar said there were buyers who had
agreements with farmers not to use rBST.

He admitted that because the rBST was not detectable many farmers
continued using it. Pienaar said discussions on the use of the hormone
was not on the organisation's agenda.

"We've had no complaints from anyone about this. We haven't discussed the

"If there is enough proof of its negative impacts, and if it gives the
industry a bad image, then we will have to discuss it," he said.

Jacobus Botha, of Elanco, the company that sells the hormone locally,
insisted that milk from cows treated with rBST was the same as milk from
untreated cows.

"rBST continued to prove itself to be an effective management tool that
helps dairy producers improve their operations, lower their cost for
producing high-quality milk and achieve higher profitability. The milk is
unchanged and just as nutritious."

The Star approached major dairy suppliers for comment on their use of the
hormone in the milk-production process.

Only Woolworths guarantees customers that their milk and milk products
are free of the hormone, by saying so on product labels.

Woolworths' products bear a circular flash "rBST hormone-free as nature
intended", as well as the statement: "Woolworths assures you that our
Ayrshire cows are not treated with rBST growth hormone - we prefer
contented cows that produce farm-fresh milk, as nature intended."

Woolworths Ayrshire milk has been produced without the use of rBST since 2001.

Spokesperson Lucy Inman said Woolworths had made the decision based on
consumer demand.

"The initial impetus came from customer requests and pressure due to a
growing awareness of the use of hormones, as well as the best practice
abroad where, in the European Union, any dairy product must be rBST-
free," said Inman.

She added: "An independent audit of all Woolworths Ayrshire farmers is
conducted on a regular but random basis to ensure compliance with the
strict animal welfare standards to ensure the herd is rBST-free."

Amanda Reiss, the consumer services manager for NestlÚ South Africa, said
NestlÚ's farmers did not make use of the hormone rBST or BST to boost
milk production,

But NestlÚ could not guarantee this on its labels.

"NestlÚ South Africa has no such (labelling) policy," Reiss said.

Similarly, Clover South Africa, which produces about a third of the
country's milk products, with about 600 suppliers nationwide, said it
"discourages the use of rBST" in the manufacture of Clover milk and milk

"We have informed our suppliers accordingly. The use of rBST is legal in
South Africa.

"We recognise the scientific merits of the hormone. In light of this,
Clover does not do inspections on farms to control the use of rBST, but
relies on the co-operation and honesty of its suppliers," said Clover
group quality manager Gerhard van Blerk.

He said the company could not label its products rBST-free because it was
not economical to test products on a regular basis.

"We are also aware of the claims of increased levels of the IGF-1 hormone
in treated animals, and the side-effects of this on humans, but are not
in a position to comment on it as there is not yet agreement among
scientists on this matter," said Van Blerk, assuring that Clover products
were safe.

Parmalat said its policy and contractual obligation between it and its
suppliers prohibited the purchasing and use of rBST due to consumer concerns.

Andrew Taynton, of the Safe Food Coalition, said he found it
contradictory of companies like Clover to recognise the "scientific
merits" of rBST but discourage its use.

"What do they know that we don't? Opponents of rBST are asking for more
objective science to prove the product is safe," he said.

"We are in possession of evidence that there were not proper scientific
studies done and that the US government colluded in getting a dangerous
product approved."

Taynton also questioned the necessity of having rBST available to farmers
if the dairy companies "discouraged" its use.

"If testing and labelling rBST milk will cost the consumer more and it's
potentially dangerous, then it should be banned. No one wants it," said
Taynton, noting that in the US, which has the highest use of rBST in the
world (up to 30 percent of dairy herds), the demand for organic milk was
outstripping supply.

"Cancer can take 20 to 30 years to develop. We have been using rBST for
less than 10 years. Is it not irresponsible to perform a 20- to 30-year
experiment on the general population?" Taynton said.

Ina Jordaan, managing director of the Dairy Standard Agency, a watchdog
for the industry, said: "If there is a demand from consumers to not use
this in milk production, then we'll investigate.

"Unfortunately there are no test methods to detect the hormone in milk."

In the meantime, Agricultural Research Council spokesperson Kgalalelo
Masibi said questions remained over IGF-1, which is increased in milk
when rBST is administered.

"In large concentrations, IGF-1 may produce cancer-forming lesions in the
gut," said Masibi.

The Medicines Control Council, which regulates all veterinary medicines,
was approached for comment but did not respond. The Dairy Standard Agency
says it welcomes complaints - on 012-8040-818.

                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Approval process slammed as dodgy
SOURCE: The Star, South Africa, by Penny Sukhraj
DATE:   21 Sep 2005

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Approval process slammed as dodgy

The hormone rBST, or rBGH, was the first genetically engineered
veterinary product approved in the world. It was patented and
manufactured by the controversial Monsanto Corporation.

Monsanto is the biggest company pushing for approval of genetically
modified products around the world.

rBST (recombinant bovine somatotrophin/bovine growth hormone) was first
approved in the US for commercial release in February 1994 by the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA).

Critics have slammed the approval process as dubious. Michael Taylor, a
corporate law officer, who joined the FDA as deputy commissioner for
policy, enforced the approval of Monsanto's product to increase milk

He left the FDA to join Monsanto as director of regulatory affairs.

In its research presented to the FDA, Monsanto dismissed alarming changes
in the test cows as "harmless physiological shifts".

The changes included major increases in the size of the cows' hearts,
livers, kidneys, ovaries and adrenal glands.

In addition, not all the research done by Monsanto ended up in the hands
of the FDA.

In fact, US government scientist Richard Burroughs revealed that cows
which contracted udder infections and mastitis were often dropped from
the study, thus skewing the results. It was later revealed that 9 500
cows from 500 farms contracted udder infections.

Burroughs was told he was "slowing down the approval process" and was
fired after he asked for toxicology studies to be conducted on the hormone.

In addition, during the time Taylor was at the FDA, he ruled that milk
from cows treated with the hormone should not be labelled as such. He
also wrote guidelines that made it difficult for dairy producers to label
their milk as "rBST-free".

Monsanto sued dairy farmers when they labelled their milk as "rBST-free".


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