Battle Against 'Artificial' Hormones Misguided on Many Levels

Kansas Viewpoint

Concerns about beef, dairy hormones given to animals largely irrelevant

Published on: July 7, 2009
I had an interesting conversation today with a young woman who seemed convinced that the current problems in the dairy industry are self-induced.

The July Kansas Farmer looked into low prices in the dairy industry and what should be done to combat them and she seemed to think the answer would be to just stop using what she called "artificial hormones."

It appears that most of her information came from the particularly inaccurate and politically motivated  web site of the "Center for Food Safety" dot org. Be sure not to confuse that with dot gov. At dot org, you find a particularly virulent, totally non-scientific plethora of misinformation cranked out by a propaganda machine populated by media manipulation gurus, borderline crazy environmentalists, eager-to-sue-somebody lawyers and a few pseudo-scientists.

The idea, apparently, is that we feed cows huge amounts of hormones forcing them to produce vast amounts of unhealthy milk which subsequently kills them, and us. If we just stopped, they would all produce less milk, be happier and we'd all be just delighted to see the price of milk double. (For proof, just look at all the positive publicity from last year's increase in milk prices.)

Never mind that the milk inducing hormone BST is hardly used at all in any Kansas dairy, is not "artificial" but is rather a natural hormone produced by every mammal to induce lactation. She seemed convinced that it not only is killing dairy cows but causing fish to change sex and might be seriously harmful to fetuses, small babies and growing children.

I had to break it to her that there is not only no such thing as "BST free" milk because the cows produce it in their own bodies and would not lactate without it. Ditto goats, humans, guinea pigs and cats. I also had to deliver the disturbing news that fish have been changing sex when conditions warrant it for thousands, maybe millions, of years. They are one of those lucky species that don't even need to contact a surgeon when they decide they want to switch sides.

Of course, she didn't believe me. But I think I might have shaken her faith just a little. I told her to contact the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, the nation's largest buyer of milk from U.S. producers, and ask them about added hormones and she'd learn that they didn't buy milk from dairies that used added hormones.

To her credit, she e-mailed me and said she did call and they did tell her that all DFA milk is "added hormone free." She was very surprised. Not only by that, but to learn that they represent about 40 percent of all the dairies in the U.S.

You don't need to look for labels or buy organic at extravagant prices. The plain, old ordinary milk at two gallons for $5 is the same thing.