210871 Got rBGH? Policy tools to protect consumers from artificial growth hormones in the U.S. dairy supply

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:50 PM

Elanor S. Starmer, MS, MALD , Food & Water Watch, San Francisco, CA
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a synthetic hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. After extensive reviews of the scientific literature, both the European Union and Canadian authorities elected to prohibit the use of rBGH. In contrast, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for commercial use in 1993, despite concerns raised by the General Accounting Office over the potential human health impacts of the drug. Evidence continues to suggest an impact on human health from increased antibiotic use and elevated IGF-1 in rBGH-treated cows. The latter may be linked to some types of human cancer. Although over 40% of large U.S. dairies continue to use rBGH, a growing number of companies now prohibit use of the drug and label their milk as rBGH-free. Several state legislatures have proposed or passed laws that restrict or prohibit this type of labeling, arguing that there is no difference between milk from rBGH-treated cows and from those not given the drug. Drawing on some of the scientific research on the human health effects of rBGH, this presentation will discuss the labeling debate and explore other policy approaches that can help reduce milk consumers' exposure to rBGH.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify three human health concerns associated with the use of rBGH. 2) Discuss recent attempts by state legislatures to ban the labeling of rBGH-free milk. 3) List three policy changes that would reduce the use of rBGH in dairy production.

Keywords: Drug Safety, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research analyst for Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group involved in policymaking at the state and national levels, including on policies related to rBGH use in dairy production and the labeling of rBGH dairy products.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.