Thursday, December 18, 2003


Agricultural biotech giant Monsanto has sued Oakhurst Dairy, a small dairy in Maine, saying Oakhurst's label ("Our farmers' pledge: no artificial growth hormones.") implies that the dairy's milk is somehow better than milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, a hormone sold by the company under the brand name Posilac.

All the kids say a glass of recombinant bovine somatotropin goes down pretty good, with some cookies. About 17 percent of dairy farmers use rBST, injecting 32 percent of all cows in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you find yourself suddenly mooing now and then, this may be the cause.

The hormone is made of an isolated gene from the growth hormone that cows produce when they lactate. Injections of the product make cows lactate longer and produce more milk. Most cows injected with rBST produce about 25 percent more milk than they would normally. Then it's passed on to the kids with the cookies.

[Dec 21 addendum: Further jaw-dropping info on all this and unappetizingly more, particularly as it pertains to UK and EU, at Vegan Society; thanks to Colin for the link.]

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