MILLER: Udder nonsense about milk
Milk occupies a special place in our lives and language. It has been dubbed “Nature’s most
perfect food,” and we speak sentimentally of the “land of milk and honey” and the “milk of human
kindness.” Dairy products represent important nutrient sources in much of the world, containing
calcium and high-quality protein.
Fourteen years ago, after a lengthy review, the Food and Drug Administration approved a
protein called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), or bovine growth hormone, that
stimulates milk production in dairy cows. (”Recombinant” indicates that the protein is made with
gene-splicing techniques.) A cow’s pituitary gland normally produces bST, one of a group of
natural protein hormones that control milk production. (The gene-spliced and natural versions
are functionally indistinguishable.)
Thus, low levels of bST are found in milk from all cows, both supplemented and unsupplemented.
Comprehensive and sophisticated studies by academics and government
regulatory agencies around the world have found no differences in the composition of the milk or
meat from bST-supplemented cows.
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