Bovine Growth Hormone - Food & Water Watch | Food & Water Watch
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Brigid Sullivan

Bovine Growth Hormone

Recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST, is injected into cows to make them produce more milk. This practice, which is known to cause harm to cows and may pose harm to humans, is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia, and all 25 countries of the European Union.

RBGH causes udder infections in cows, which are treated with antibiotics. Increased antibiotic use in food animals is a serious problem because it creates antibiotic resistant bacteria and is strongly linked to human infections that are difficult to treat. Injections of rBGH also increase another hormone, called IGF-1, in the cow and the cow‚ milk. Too much IGF-1 in humans is linked with increased rates of colon, breast, and prostate cancer. While it’s not certain that rBGH given to cows significantly increases IGF-1 in humans, why take the chance?

Throughout the Midwest and West, there has been an explosion in large dairy operations over the last decade. They are associated with numerous environmental and health hazards, including air pollution. California state regulators have named dairy cows as the leading air pollution culprit in the San Joaquin Valley–home to 2.5 million dairy cows. As a result of having some of the worst air quality in the nation, 16 percent of children in the region have asthma, three times the national average.

“…studies suggest that rBGH is linked to increased cancer risk”

At many of these factory farms, in an attempt to increase the profitability, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is used to make the cow produce more milk. This hormone causes health problems in cows and increases antibiotic use on dairies. While the effect on humans consuming rBGH milk is not clear, studies suggest that rBGH is linked to increased cancer risk.

Many consumers have balked at the widespread use of hormones and antibiotics at giant dairies and opt for purchasing organic and sustainably produced milk. We want to educate consumers about rBGH and encourage them to find rBGH-free dairy products.

We also ask you to join us in fighting against the sale of dairy products from cloned cows and their offspring, as the vast majority of consumers oppose the practice. Together, as consumers and as citizens, we can change the policies that encourage the growth of large dairy factory farms.


Learn how to go rBGH-free.