Twenty years ago, when Frank Young, M.D. was the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. sent him a report titled “Potential Public Health Hazards of Biosynthetic Milk Hormones” that warned of the risks to consuming milk from cows that had been given hormone treatments.
Dr. Epstein told the commissioner that injecting cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a powerful genetically modified copy of the natural growth hormone produced by cows, causes insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels in milk to drastically increase.
He cautioned that IGF-1, which is easily absorbed via the small intestine, raises cancer risk in individuals who consume milk from cows who have received rBGH treatment. Dr. Epstein discovered evidence of breast cancer caused by ingesting IGF-1 in 1989; data on colon and prostate cancer started to surface a few years later.
Dr. Epstein urged the FDA Commissioner to impose a moratorium on the production and sale of rBGH as well as milk from treated cows until all issues relating to human and veterinary health and safety were addressed in his capacity as professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.
Under the brand name Posilac, Monsanto markets rBGH to dairy producers. When this hormone is injected, cows are compelled to produce 10% more milk. According to Monsanto, a third of dairy cows are kept in herds that take the hormone.
Dr. Epstein cautions that mastitis, an udder illness frequently brought on by rBGH, as well as medications used to treat the mastitis, frequently result in rBGH milk being contaminated with pus. He cautions that this puts the nation at risk for widespread antibiotic resistance to life-threatening diseases.
In his 1989 report, he condemned Monsanto for neglecting to release their secret data and for the company’s failure to label milk from rBGH-treated cows, depriving customers of their right to know when they are consuming hormonal milk.
The FDA and USDA’s abandonment of regulatory responsibilities, according to Dr. Epstein, “further exacerbates these issues.”
Dr. Epstein acted without waiting for government intervention.
Dr. Epstein released the first significant public warning on the dangers of eating rBGH milk in the September/October 1989 issue of The Ecologist, for which he served as associate editor.
The Ecologist article argued that ingesting hormone milk not only raised the chance of breast cancer but also increased stress, increased susceptibility to allergens, and depressed the immune system, leaving the consumer more susceptible to infectious infections.
The paper indicated that the hormone was undergoing covert field tests in Britain.
The FDA in the US granted the industry protection from determining the hormone levels in milk from cows given rBGH.
The 1938 Federal Food, Medicine and Cosmetic Act requires the FDA to have a “prescribed and authorised test procedure” for assessing if a drug is being misused and leaving behind unlawful residues in food. Dr. Epstein protested that this exemption violated this law. However, there was no rBGH milk test available.
Dr. Epstein provided testimony on these issues before the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Agriculture in September 1989, and the International Journal of Health Services later published an article based on his evidence.
He has often demanded that the government compel business to support studies that follow independently approved methods and are overseen by a “neutral, independent mediator” like the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation.
At a symposium sponsored by the National Institutes of Health in December 1990, Dr. Epstein expressed similar opinions and cautioned that those who consume rBGH milk may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to elevated IGF-1 levels.
Nevertheless, the FDA created restrictions prohibiting the labelling of rBGH milk and permitted the commercial sale of milk from cows treated with rBGH in 1993.
Dr. Epstein wrote to FDA Commissioner David Kessler, M.D. in 1994 to voice his “grave worries” on the possibility of breast and colon cancer from consuming hormonal milk.
IGF-1 triggers malignant transformation of normal human breast epithelial cells, according to Dr. Epstein, who is also chairman of his new nonprofit organisation, the Cancer Prevention Coalition. Human breast cancer cells use IGF-1 as a growth factor to sustain their malignancy, development, and invasiveness. Additionally linked to colon cancer is IGF-1.
The letter begged Kessler to remove the organization’s endorsement of the registration of rBGH.
Due to these worries, dairy farmers started labelling milk from cows that had not had rBGH injections as “hormone-free” to reassure the public. A month later, Dr. Epstein published an article in the Los Angeles Times criticising the FDA for the labelling prohibition.
National grassroots consumer organisations and two milk suppliers, who were both sued by Monsanto, opposed the labelling restriction.
Dr. Epstein continues to caution that rBGH milk carries elevated risks for breast and colon cancer in a variety of public settings, from 1996 Chicago hearings on the labelling of genetically modified goods to a 1998 paper in the “International Journal of Health Services.”
In essence, the entire country is today being exposed to an experiment involving widespread adulteration of an ancient dietary staple by a poorly defined and labelled biotechnology product, he said in the 1998 paper. “With the active collaboration of the FDA,” he added. Unsettlingly, this experiment only benefits a very small portion of the agri-chemical business and does not benefit consumers in a similar way. What’s even more alarming is that it seriously endangers the health of the whole American populace.
Prostate cancer was a new cautionary note given by Dr. Epstein about the intake of rBGH milk in March 1998.
He claimed that rBGH milk is “supercharged with high amounts of unusually powerful IGF-1, up to 10 times the levels in natural milk and over 10 times more effective” in the journal Gene Therapy Weekly.
He stated that several lines of evidence have implicated IGF-1 as a risk factor for breast, colon, and paediatric cancers in addition to prostate cancer.
Dr. Epstein started to acquire support in his campaign against hormone milk after issuing warnings based on extensive scientific proof for ten years.
The Scientific Committee of the European Commission published a study in March 1999 revealing elevated levels of IGF-1 in milk from cows given rBGH injections. The investigation came to the conclusion that high levels of IGF-1 carry significant risks for breast and prostate cancer.
Dr. Epstein lambasted Codex, the World Health Organization responsible for establishing global food safety standards, for approving hormonal milk in his comments about the Scientific Committee’s findings. Codex, which holds secret meetings and depends on unreleased corporate guarantees of safety, “includes FDA officials and industry experts,” he stated.
The 1993 European Union ban on rBGH milk was unexpectedly upheld by Codex five months later, in August 1999. The decision caused the US to back off its vow to challenge the moratorium at the WTO.
The National Family Farm Coalition, which represents 30 groups, and the Campaign Against rBGH, which represents 10 organisations, both supported the Cancer Prevention Coalition’s concerns.
The effort to inform the public about the risks of rBGH milk was supported by the Organic Consumers Association and Director Ronnie Cummins. Epstein and Cummins said in a joint editorial published in the year 2005 in the journal Medical Veritas that “…raised IGF-1 blood levels have been incriminated as a primary cause of cancer.”
This warning was backed by more than 100 top independent specialists in cancer prevention and public health, as well as by citizen activist organisations, according to Epstein and Cummins.
Along with their support, they insisted that the public has “an indisputable right-to-know” about knowledge on preventable causes of cancer, insisting that this is a democratic right that the agribusiness and FDA “continue to resist.”
What’s in Your Milk? was released by Dr. Epstein in 2006. An Expose of Industry and Government Cover-Up on the Risks of Your Drinking Genetically Modified (rBGH) Milk (Trafford Publishing).
According to Monsanto and the FDA, rBGH milk is safe for consumption and cannot be distinguished from regular milk. Dr. Epstein responded, “This is patently incorrect,” detailing the risks of drinking milk from cows given the hormone.
Cows become ill with rBGH. On the Posilac label, Monsanto was compelled to acknowledge around 20 harmful consequences, including mastitis.
Due to the mastitis that rBGH frequently causes and the medicines that are used to treat it, milk containing rBGH is pus-contaminated.
Chemically and nutritionally, rBGH milk differs from regular milk.
The hormone, traces of which are taken into the blood through the stomach, is tainted in milk from cows who have had rBGH injections.
IGF-1, a naturally occurring growth factor that is easily absorbed via the intestines, is supercharged in rBGH milk.
IGF-1 overproduction has been linked to cases of breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
IGF-1 inhibits the body’s natural defences against submicroscopic early malignancies.
Small dairy farmers are being threatened by rBGH commercial farms.
Given the current national milk oversupply, rBGH profits Monsanto while endangering consumers and raising risks for no gain.
And of far greater worry, excessive levels of IGF-1 in rBGH milk offer significant risks of breast, colon, and prostate cancers, according to 37 published scientific research that are described in the book.
It is hardly unexpected that rBGH milk is prohibited in Canada, the EU, and other countries.
Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and leader of the organisation Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, provides an introduction to the book. Jeffrey M. Smith, the author of the best-selling book Seeds of Deception, wrote the Foreword.
The book received endorsements from Quentin Young, M.D., chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group and past president of the American Public Health Association, Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Mark Achbar, executive producer of the multiple award-winning documentary The Corporation, and Peter I. Hardin, editor and publisher of “The Milkwee.”
Other supporters included Anna Lappe, author of “Diet for a Small Planet,” and Ken Ausubel, director of the Bioneers conferences and author of “Seeds of Change.”
The book is a special source of information on rBGH milk. It covers Dr. Epstein’s groundbreaking scientific works published since 1989, which have had a significant impact on other countries’ decisions to outlaw rBGH milk, including Canada, 24 European countries, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Along with contact with the FDA, Congressman Conyers, and other significant members of Congress, the book also includes the author’s editorials, letters to the editor, and letters to major newspapers.
Epstein cites evidence of overlapping conflicts of interest between Monsanto and the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, and the White House in the book. He provides proof of Monsanto’s white collar crime, the falsification and concealment of data regarding the risks of rBGH milk to animals and the public, and the “Hit Squad” effort by Monsanto to silence and discredit him.
The FDA’s cooperation and failure to mandate the labelling of rBGH milk, along with Monsanto’s business negligence, more than warrant the rejection of any guarantees of its safety. The vital significance of this knowledge to the ongoing debate and discussion about foods made using genetic engineering, including indisputable proof refuting the “trust us” safety claims of Monsanto and other corporations, is also intriguing.
The book also includes reference resources, such as directories of domestic and foreign anti-biotech, pro-public health, pro-vet, and animal rights activist groups. The list also includes rBGH-free dairy companies from the United States as Horizon Organic and Swiss Valley Farms.
Consumers should BOYCOTT rBGH HORMONAL MILK IN FAVOR OF CERTIFIED ORGANIC MILK, according to What’s In Your Milk. Trafford Publishing, www.trafford.com/06-0676, sells the book.
Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. served as FDA Commissioner in 2007. The FDA was requested by the Cancer Prevention Coalition to withdraw the rBST application for a new animal drug. The Institute for Responsible Technology, Farm Defenders, the Organic Consumers Association, and Hungarian scientist Arpad Pusztai all supported this petition.
The petition requests that the FDA rBGH product Posilac’s approval be suspended and/or that milk and other dairy products made using Posilac be labelled with a warning that reads, “Produced with the use of Posilac, and contains elevated levels of IGF-1, a major risk factor for breast, prostate, and colon cancers.”
rBGH is now thought to be used in the production of 20% or less of the milk in the United States.
Dr. Epstein, who is still regarded as the foremost international scientific authority on hormonal milk, isn’t waiting for the government to take action on rBGH milk, despite the fact that all of the issues he has raised over the previous 20 years haven’t been resolved.
On October 14, 2009, he denounced the “Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin” report, which received widespread attention and repeated claims that milk from cows given rBGH injections is safe. He did this by pointing out that the report was written by eight paid consultants for rBST companies, including Elanco and Monsanto.
Dr. Epstein is currently chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and professor emeritus of environmental medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. He has authored or co-authored 12 books, including the critically acclaimed The Politics of Cancer from 1978, The Safe Shopper’s Bible from 1995, and Cancer-Gate: How to Win the Losing Cancer War from 2005. He is the author of 270 scientific papers.
For his unparalleled contributions to cancer prevention and for taking the lead in warning about the risks of rBGH milk, Dr. Epstein has won several honours, including the 1998 Right Livelihood Award and the Alternative Nobel Prize. The Project Censored Award for 2000 was given to Dr. Epstein. The Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for Humanitarianism and International Contributions to Cancer Prevention was given to Dr. Epstein in 2005.
Top officials in all 50 state health departments, senior federal officials in all regulatory agencies, and staff members of pertinent Congressional committees have all received copies of this press release.
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