Have you heard of rbST? If you’d asked me that a few years ago, I would have had no idea what you were talking about. Recombinant bovine somatotropin is an artificial growth hormone that is injected into cows so that they produce more milk. More milk sounds great right? Well…when cows are injected with this, it causes their udders to become inflamed, a condition called mastitis. This causes them to have pus in their udders, so that when they are milked, pus and milk come out together, meaning that when you drink milk from a cow treated with rbST, you are drinking “udder pus”. Gross, right?
I used to have this picture in my mind of a farmer in a barn milking a cow and then putting it in a jug for me to pick up at the grocery store. And I thought that all of the milk in my milk jug was from one cow. I was very wrong. Even if some cows don’t contract mastitis, the milk in your conventional milk jug is not just from one cow. Non-organic farming is all done in a factory, so the milk from all kinds of sick cows with various diseases runs together and pours into your jug.
If that is not enough, to treat mastitis these sick cows are given antibiotics, one of which is penicillin. (Ten percent of the population of the United States is allergic to penicillin, by the way. Possibly linked to all the milk allergies?) The treatment of mastitis with antibiotics has been found to eventually cause the cows bodies to reject further antibiotics given them. This is highly dangerous, because this can be transferred to humans who drink the milk from these cows. So basically, just from drinking conventional milk, our bodies could get accustomed to resisting antibiotics! The consumption of conventional milk has also been linked to insulin-like growth factor-1, which has been connected with cancers such as prostate, colon, and breast.
Many countries have banned the use of rbST, so why hasn’t the U.S.? Many Americans just don’t know, like I did not only a few years back, all of the health risks of producing milk this way. As awareness spreads, hopefully the demand for organic dairy products will grow, and rbST treatment will be a thing of the past. Think twice before buying conventional milk!