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The environmental impact of recombinant bovine

somatotropin (rbST) use in dairy production

Judith L. Capper*, Euridice Castan˜ eda-Gutie´ rrez*†, Roger A. Cady‡, and Dale E. Bauman*§

*Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4801; and ‡Monsanto Company Animal Agricultural Group, 800 North Lindbergh
Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63167-0001
Edited by David H. Baker, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved May 2, 2008 (received for review March 12, 2008)

The environmental impact of using recombinant bovine somatotropin
(rbST) in dairy production was examined on an individual
cow, industry-scale adoption, and overall production system basis.
An average 2006 U.S. milk yield of 28.9 kg per day was used, with
a daily response to rbST supplementation of 4.5 kg per cow.
Rations were formulated and both resource inputs (feedstuffs,
fertilizers, and fuels) and waste outputs (nutrient excretion and
greenhouse gas emissions) calculated. The wider environmental
impact of production systems was assessed via acidification (AP),
eutrophication (EP), and global warming (GWP) potentials. From a
producer perspective, rbST supplementation improved individual
cow production, with reductions in nutrient input and waste
output per unit of milk produced. From an industry perspective,
supplementing one million cows with rbST reduced feedstuff and
water use, cropland area, N and P excretion, greenhouse gas
emissions, and fossil fuel use compared with an equivalent milk
production from unsupplemented cows. Meeting future U.S. milk
requirements from cows supplemented with rbST conferred the
lowest AP, EP, and GWP, with intermediate values for conventional
management and the highest environmental impact resulting from
organic production. Overall, rbST appears to represent a valuable
management tool for use in dairy production to improve productive
efficiency and to have less negative effects on the environment
than conventional dairying.

carbon footprint ¦ environment ¦ greenhouse gas ¦
sustainability ¦ productive efficiency

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