Popular Posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Food for Thought
Food Security: A Little Hormones with Your Milk?

Soon, 3.59% of milk in Canada will come from the United States. This is a result of the new US—Mexico—Canada trade agreement. Dairy farmers in Canada are very concerned about the impact this will have on their incomes and the future for small dairy farms in our country.

Another concern about US milk coming into Canada is that it might come from cows that have been injected with a growth hormone – rBGH.

What’s the problem?

Monsanto, a huge  agricultural chemical company (now owned by Bayer), developed rBGH to increase the amount of milk that dairy cows produce. Cows that are injected with this growth hormone can produce 5% to 15% more milk. This sounds like a good thing, right?

Well, for cows, not so much. Twenty years ago, rBGH was banned from use in Canada mostly because of the health impact on dairy cows. Cows injected with rBGH have higher rates of painful udder infections and lameness, and they live shorter lives. As well, the udder infection (mastitis) is treated with antibiotics, a small amount of which may end up in the milk.

What about human health? There still isn’t enough research to say for sure if it causes long-term health problems or if it’s safe. There is some evidence that rBGH is linked to some types of cancer, but there has not been enough research to say for sure. Many countries, including all countries in the European Union, have banned the use of rBGH.

And if we don’t know for sure, it makes sense to be careful. Over a life time, people drink a lot of milk, and there have been no long-term studies of rBGH. 

Good News

Fewer dairy farms in the US are using rBGH than a decade ago. This is mostly because the public and organizations like the American Humane Society don’t support it. (The American Medical Association withdrew its statement that rBGH was OK, and now does not have a policy position on the issue.) Most people want to drink milk that's free of rBGH.

More Good News 

Right now, the milk from cows that have been injected with growth hormones doesn’t have to be labelled. Monsanto fought hard to stop labelling in the US by lobbying government and by launching lawsuits. This means that if you’re buying milk that comes from the US, you may not be able to tell if it’s rBGH-free. 

But there’s an easy fix: just make sure you buy milk from Canadian dairies, the same ones you’re buying from now.

The Long Term

Food is secure when communities control it. That means having control over what’s grown, how it’s grown and how it’s distributed. It’s not ok for the government to give away control of what’s in the milk we buy, even if it’s only some of the milk. You can let the government know how you feel about this issue by telling your Member of Parliament. 

No comments :

Post a Comment