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National School Lunches: Unsafe at Any Eating

On September 30, 2009, Congress is due to amend the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes the National School Lunch Program.  This would prohibit the sale in schools of sugary or fatty junk foods, including French fries and soft drinks.  More critically, the Act should also address concerns on two lunch staples-meat, and dairy products.    

U.S. beef is heavily contaminated with sex hormones.  When U.S. beef cattle enter feedlots, sex hormone pellets are implanted under the ear skin, a process that is repeated at the midpoint of their 100-day pre-slaughter fattening period.  These hormones increase the weight of the cattle, adding to profits by about $80 per animal.    

The hormones in past and current use include the natural estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, and their more potent synthetic counterparts, zeranol, trenbolone, melengesterol, and Synovex.  FDA and the USDA still maintain that residues of these hormones in meat are safe and within "normal limits."    

However, confidential industry reports to the FDA, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, have revealed high residues of the hormones in meat products.  Following a single ear implant in steers of Synovex-S, a combination of estradiol and progesterone, their residues in meat were found to be up to 20-fold higher than normal.  The amount of estradiol in two hamburgers eaten in one day by an 8-year old boy could increase his total hormone levels by as much as 10%, particularly as young children have very low natural hormone levels.    

Increased levels of sex hormones are closely linked to the escalating increase of reproductive cancers in the U.S., 36% for post-menopausal breast cancer, 51% for testicular cancer, and 88% for prostate cancer, since 1975.  These concerns have been strongly reinforced by recent evidence, from researchers at Ohio State University, that meat and blood from cattle implanted with zeranol have powerful hormonal effects, which resist cooking.

Europe has viewed longstanding U.S. claims with considerable skepticism.  Since 1989, all European nations have banned the sale of beef from hormone-treated cattle.

About 20% of U.S. milk comes from cows injected with Posilac, Monsanto's genetically engineered potent variant of a natural growth hormone produced by cows.  Injection of this hormone forces cows to increase their milk production by about 10%.  Monsanto has stated that about one third of dairy cows are in herds where the hormone is used.

However, the FDA insists that hormonal milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is safe for consumers.  This is palpably false.

€¢    rBGH makes cows sick.  Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis, on its Posilac label.
€¢    rBGH milk is contaminated by pus, due to the mastitis commonly induced by rBGH, and antibiotics used to treat the mastitis.
€¢    rBGH milk is chemically, and nutritionally different than natural milk.
€¢    Milk from cows injected with rBGH is contaminated with the hormone, traces of which are absorbed through the gut into the blood.
€¢    rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut.
€¢    Excess levels of  IGF-1 have been incriminated as a cause of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
€¢    IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms against early submicroscopic cancers.
€¢    rBGH factory farms pose a major threat to the viability of small dairy farms.
€¢    rBGH enriches Eli Lilly, the new owner of rBGH, while posing dangers, without any benefits, to consumers, especially in view of the current national surplus of milk.

These concerns, supported by 60 scientific references, were submitted in a May 11, 2007, Cancer Prevention Coalition Petition to the FDA, "Seeking the Withdrawal of the New Animal Drug Application Approval for Posilac - Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)."  

The Petition was endorsed by Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association;  John Kinsman, Family Farm Defenders;  Arpad Pusztai, Consultant Biologist; and Jeffrey M. Smith, Institute for Responsible Technology.  

The FDA has still failed to respond to this Petition.