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Organic Consumers Association

Sponsored Academics Admit Falsely Claiming Safety for Monsanto/Eli Lilly's Bovine Growth Hormone

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our RGBH Information page.

The fight over rbGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) continues, even under new ownership.

After acquiring rbGH from Monsanto, Elanco (part of Eli Lilly) has stepped up efforts to convince milk processors and the wider food industry that milk from rbGH-injected cows is safe. Central to their new campaign is a paper, commissioned through PR company Porter-Novelli, from eight prominent experts and academics in medicine and dairy science (Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST): a safety assessment).

The authors are Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA, Connie Bales of Duke University Medical Centre, Dale Bauman of Cornell University, David Clemmons of the University of North Carolina, Ronald Kleinman of Harvard Medical school, Dante Lanna of the University of Sao Paolo, Stephen Nickerson of the University of Georgia, and Kristen Sejrsen of Aarhus University, Denmark. The new paper was not peer-reviewed but it was presented at the July 2009 joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, the Canadian Society of Animal Science and the American Society of Animal Science in Montreal, Canada. It argues strongly for the benefits and safety of rbGH milk and has been widely distributed by Elanco. According to a rebuttal circulated by a number of consumer advocacy organizations, however, the paper misrepresents the position of various medical bodies.

The paper claims, for instance, that the safety of rbGH is endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA). Through their Campaign for Safe Food, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (Oregon PSR), has pointed out that the AMA has no policy on rbGH and offers no such endorsement. Instead, they note the April 2008 AMA newsletter cites past president Ron Davis saying "Hospitals should......use milk produced without recombinant bovine growth hormone".

The new paper also claims the same endorsement from the American Cancer Society (ACS). This claim, Oregon PSR points out, is contradicted on the ACS's own website and this was confirmed by the ACS in an email to the Bioscience Resource Project: "The American Cancer Society (ACS) has no formal position regarding rBGH." stated the email. Another endorsement claimed by the paper is from the American Association of Pediatrics, a claim also disputed by the coalition. "I can confirm that AAP does not endorse the safety of rbGH" wrote an AAP spokesperson to the the Bioscience Resource Project, also in an email.    


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