WELL, AT LEAST COW'S MILK IS PURE
Or is it? Fifty years ago an average cow produced 2,000
pounds of milk per year. Today the top producers give 50,000 pounds! How
was this accomplished? Drugs, antibiotics, hormones, forced feeding plans
and specialized breeding; that's how.
The latest high-tech onslaught on the poor cow is bovine
growth hormone or BGH. This genetically engineered drug is supposed to
stimulate milk production but, according to Monsanto, the hormone's
manufacturer, does not affect the milk or meat. There are three other
manufacturers: Upjohn, Eli Lilly, and American Cyanamid Company.
Obviously, there have been no long-term studies on the hormone's effect on
the humans drinking the milk. Other countries have banned BGH because of
safety concerns. One of the problems with adding molecules to a milk cows'
body is that the molecules usually come out in the milk. I don't know how
you feel, but I don't want to experiment with the ingestion of a growth
hormone. A related problem is that it causes a marked increase (50 to 70
per cent) in mastitis. This, then, requires antibiotic therapy, and the
residues of the antibiotics appear in the milk. It seems that the public
is uneasy about this product and in one survey 43 per cent felt that
growth hormone treated milk represented a health risk. A vice president
for public policy at Monsanto was opposed to labelling for that reason,
and because the labelling would create an "artificial distinction". The
country is awash with milk as it is, we produce more milk than we can
consume. Let's not create storage costs and further taxpayer burdens,
because the law requires the USDA to buy any surplus of butter, cheese, or
non-fat dry milk at a support price set by Congress! In fiscal 1991, the
USDA spent $757 million on surplus butter, and one billion dollars a year
on average for price supports during the 1980s (Consumer Reports, May
Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk.
This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Also, all
cows' milk contains blood! The inspectors are simply asked to keep it
under certain limits. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows
milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per
millilitre. (That's only 1/30 of an ounce). If you don't already know
this, I'm sorry to tell you that another way to describe white cells where
they don't belong would be to call them pus cells. To get to the point, is
milk pure or is it a chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail?
Finally, will the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protect you? The
United States General Accounting Office (GAO) tells us that the FDA and
the individual States are failing to protect the public from drug residues
in milk. Authorities test for only 4 of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.
As you can imagine, the Milk Industry Foundation's
spokesman claims it's perfectly safe. Jerome Kozak says, "I still think
that milk is the safest product we have."
Other, perhaps less biased observers, have found the
following: 38% of milk samples in 10 cities were contaminated with sulfa
drugs or other antibiotics. (This from the Centre for Science in the
Public Interest and The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 1989).. A similar
study in Washington, DC found a 20 percent contamination rate (Nutrition
Action Healthletter, April 1990).
What's going on here? When the FDA tested milk, they
found few problems. However, they used very lax standards. When they used
the same criteria , the FDA data showed 51 percent of the milk samples
showed drug traces.
Let's focus in on this because it's critical to our
understanding of the apparent discrepancies. The FDA uses a disk-assay
method that can detect only 2 of the 30 or so drugs found in milk. Also,
the test detects only at the relatively high level. A more powerful test
called the "Charm II test" can detect 4o drugs down to 5 parts per
One nasty subject must be discussed. It seems that cows
are forever getting infections around the udder that require ointments and
antibiotics. An article from France tells us that when a cow receives
penicillin, that penicillin appears in the milk for from 4 to 7 milkings.
Another study from the University of Nevada, Reno tells of cells in
"mastic milk", milk from cows with infected udders. An elaborate analysis
of the cell fragments, employing cell cultures, flow cytometric analysis ,
and a great deal of high tech stuff. Do you know what the conclusion was?
If the cow has mastitis, there is pus in the milk. Sorry, it's in the
study, all concealed with language such as "…macrophages containing many
vacuoles and phagocytosed particles, etc."
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