The dairy industry has followed the same path as much of agriculture: Produce as much as possible and do it cheaply, all in the name of increasing profitability. Like those who are, for example, growing grain or raising chickens, dairy farmers are responding to the increasing power of agribusiness and farmer-unfriendly federal policies by getting bigger or getting out.
One of the many factors contributing to factory-scale dairy operations is recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or also sometimes called rBST), an artificial growth hormone developed by Monsanto to increase dairy cows’ milk output.
Industrial agriculture proponents proclaim that farming on a large scale, and using technology such as rBGH, brings many benefits to farmers. Lately, a healthier environment has been their prime example of these supposed benefits. One outspoken advocate of industrial dairy production recently wrote that the genetically engineered hormone is good for the environment because dairy cows injected with it “eat less feed for each gallon of milk they produce” and this means that less land is used for cows given the artificial hormone. “Less land plowed, less fertilizer, less of all of the inputs that go into producing the dairy products consumers enjoy.” Going even further, he says, those cows on rBGH help cut down on greenhouse gases.
Are rBGH Cows More Efficient?
Is it true? Do cows injected with rBGH really eat less feed while producing more milk? The Food & Drug Administration says no.