Food and Wine Shopping and Entertainment
December 1, 2015
I was begininng to believe that it is foolish and perhaps pretentious and often boring, as well as damnably expensive, to make a meal of six or eight courses just because the guests who are to eat it have always been used to that many. Let them try eating two or three things, I said, so plentiful and so interesting and so well cooked that they will be satisfied. And if they aren't satisfied, let them stay away from our table and our leisurely comfortable friendship at that table.

M.F.K. Fisher

Cooking Tip of the Month: Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) or Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST) is a veterinary drug, produced through biotechnology, which is given to cattle and is intended to increase milk production in lactating cows.
What are the proposed benefits and risk?
The benefits are increased efficiency and quantity in milk production. The risks include infections, lameness, infertility, and culling in dairy cow populations, and possible longterm impacts to humans from antibiotic residues and increased levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).
What is the current FDA policy?
In 1990, FDA had declared rBGH/rBST safe for human consumption, and it was approved for use in the United States in 1993.
What does the most recent data suggest?
Recent studies have concentrated on the effects of rBGH/rBST on animals and humans. Comments are separated below for both categories.
The most recent studies have supported earlier conclusions regarding the negative effects of rBGH/rBST on dairy cows. A recent report by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association on rBGH/rBST in November 1998 indicates that there are quantifiable reductions in the health of the cows treated with rBGH/rBST. Of note was the studyıs identification that there was:
  1. a 25% increase in the risk of clinical mastitis (udder infection) in treated cows,
  2. a 50% increase in the risk of clinical lameness associated with use of rBST,
  3. a general increased risk of culling associated with the use of rBST,
  4. and an increased risk of non-pregnancy.

The Panel concluded that the use of rBST would likely reduce the lifespan of dairy cattle. Other literature indicated that there is a need for more long-term studies on the effects is needed and that these studies should include a larger sample size.
The literature on the effects of rBGH/rBST in humans is at an impasse. Consumer advocates argue that there is a substantial risk that humans may be ingesting antibiotics and Insulin-like Growth Factor ­1 (in humans elevated IGF-1 has been linked to breast and colon cancer, acromegaly or enlargement of the extremities, hypertension, diabetes, and gynecomastia, growth of breasts in men), and that these substances are potentially detrimental to human health. The FDA, American Medical Association, and other pro-rBGH/rBST entities argue that antibiotic residue and IGF-1 are not ingested in quantities that are harmful and that most of these substances can be removed in the pasteurization process. At this point, we have found no substantiation for the arguments by either pro or anti rBGH/rBST groups. However, the questions being asked by the consumer organizations about the methodology of the studies used by pro-rBGH/rBST groups and the potential risks associated with increasing the intake of IGF-1 make a reasonable case for the need to conduct long-term studies on the consequences of ingesting milk containing rBGH/rBST. Currently, there are no long-term studies cited on the effects of rBGH/rBST.
Source:   Whole Foods
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