Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Some have questioned the FDA's assessment, noting that
since rBST boosts milk production by denying the cow of
some of its reserve energy, the cattle might experience poorer
health. Compare the body of a beef cow to a dairy cow and one
will see the toll that high milk production can take (allowing
some exaggeration, high-yielding dairy cows look like a hide
draped over a bare skeleton with a huge udder underneath).
Increasing milk production might compromise the cows'
immune system, requiring the use of antibiotics. The resulting
milk might then contain antibiotic residues and be less safe,
the claim goes (though the FDA regulates antibiotic use to
prevent this). If cows are negatively affected by the hormones,
some wonder whether the consumers of the cows' milk will
be harmed also. Although Monsanto claimed that rBSt had no
impact on cattle health, when some of Monsanto's confiden-
tial data were made public by an anonymous FDA employee,
the data suggested those claims were false. Cattle health was
worsened by rBST. The arguments made against rBST then
involve a conspiracy.
The conspiracy theory got even bigger. There was an offi-
cial investigation. The FDA defended its position by publishing
an article in the prestigious journal Science , but the conspiracy
theorists (a term not meant disparagingly) observed that the
main reviewer of the article had received compensation from
Monsanto in the past. When an FDA employee was fired, some
said it was because he expressed his belief that rBST needed more
research before it should be deemed safe. The FDA was accused
of manipulating data, or relying too much on Monsanto's hon-
esty, and as a result failed to determine the extent to which rBST
milk is safe (in regards to a substance called IGF-1).
So here is another case where a controversial issue requires
one to decide whether to trust the regulatory agencies and
the bulk of scientists, or whether to believe that the influence
of a corporation is so pervasive that the truth is only being
spoken by a few courageous journalists and scientists. As
we have stated before, we tend to trust our fellow scientists
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