Promoting Growth at Any Cost
Factory farms strive to increase the number of animals they raise every year. To do so, however, they use some practices that present health concerns for consumers.
With the approval of the FDA and USDA, factory farms in the United States use hormones (and antibiotics, as discussed earlier) to promote growth and milk production in beef and dairy cattle, respectively. Regulations do prohibit the use of hormones in pigs and poultry. Unfortunately, this restriction doesn’t apply to antibiotic use in these animals.
An estimated two-thirds of all U.S. cattle raised for slaughter are injected with growth hormones.8 Six different hormones are used on beef cattle, three of which occur naturally, and three of which are synthetic.9 Beef hormones have been banned in the European Union since the 1980′s. The European Commission appointed a committee to study their safety for humans. Its 1999 report found that residues in meat from injected animals could affect the hormonal balance of humans, causing reproductive issues and breast, prostate or colon cancer. The European Union has prohibited the import of all beef treated with hormones, which means it does not accept any U.S. beef.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a genetically engineered, artificial growth hormone injected into dairy cattle to increase their milk production by anywhere from 8 to 17 percent. The FDA approved rBGH in 1993, based solely on an unpublished study submitted by Monsanto. Canada, Australia, Japan and the European Union all have prohibited the use of rBGH.
Approximately 22 percent of all dairy cows in the United States. are injected with the hormone, but 54 percent of large herds (500 animals or more), such as those found on factory farms, use rBGH. Its use has increased bacterial udder infections in cows by 25 percent, thereby increasing the need for antibiotics to treat the infections.
In addition, the milk from cows injected with rBGH has higher levels of another hormone called Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer.15 Researchers believe there may be an association between the increase in twin births over the past 30 years and elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans.
Next: Unwholesome, Unsanitary and Inhumane Conditions