FTC To Monsanto: Dairies' Hormone-Free Milk Ads Not Misleading

The FTC rebuffed chemical giant Monsanto’s request for action against dairies advertising their milk as being hormone-free, the Miami Herald reports.

Monsanto said it was concerned that the claims falsely create the impression that hormone-free milk is safer than hormone laced milk. The company makes recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), which the FDA has approved since 1993 as safe for use in increasing cow’s milk production. In 1997, a FoxNews investigative team cracked a story about Monsanto’s conspiracy to push bovine growth hormone while ignoring the potential risks to consumers. They were then ceaselessly badgered by Monsanto lawyers and Fox corporate into changing their story, fired, and sued by their employer.

Monsanto said the dairies claims have created an artificial demand and driven up consumer prices for hormone-free milk.

FTC: Milk ads not misleading [Miami Herald]
(Photo: computermachina)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Monsanto said the dairies claims have created an artificial demand and driven up consumer prices for hormone-free milk.

    Sooo…Monsanto is upset their milk is cheaper than the competition’s? Really?

  2. salviati says:

    “Monsanto said the dairies claims have created an artificial demand and driven up consumer prices for hormone-free milk.”

    If the demand is artificial, then what are they worried about?

  3. salviati says:

    “Monsanto said the dairies claims have created an artificial demand and driven up consumer prices for hormone-free milk.”

    So if the demand is artificial, then what is Monsanto worried about?

  4. shoegazer says:

    I don’t see what is misleading about milk without hormones being advertised as, um, hormone-free.

    And thanks Monsanto for reminding us how business works. It’s only OK to create “artificial demand” by sabotaging your seeds and crushing any growers who don’t purchase your GM stock. It’s not OK to do it by letting customers know about alternatives to your hormonal cows.

    </sarcasm> – because someone, somewhere is going to wilfully misinterpret my comments again!

  5. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    so you are going to sue dairy farmers because people want their product more?

    the idea that a naturally produced product is healthier than a “scientifically enhanced” must seem completely foreign to them

  6. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    oh – and becuase a cat was used in the post
    “Milk Kittah saiz – hormoans no want!”

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Apparently Monsanto has never heard of supply rising to meet increased demand and resulting in lower prices.

  8. BobbyMike says:

    This happens all the time. Currently food producers are pressuring to have the term “Organic” to include foods that aren’t, well, technically organic.
    Way to go FDA! After all your mission is to protect us consumers by whoring yourself out to big businesses.

    Sorry, that was ill-mannered and rude to sex-workers.

  9. cabedrgn says:

    @Ben Popken: Oh they have, they just choose to crush/sue it. There have been many cases over the years of them suing small farms out of business in Canada due to their crops being contaminated with their genetically modified seeds. If I remember correctly, there was one case where the small farm counter sued (since they basically lost their crops) and Monsanto sued for defamation and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Some of it is discussed in the wikipedia article.


  10. kimsama says:

    Hahaha! Fuck you, Monsanto! This is another instance (as with U-Haul and United) where I gleefully spend more money on competitors’ products because it won’t go to an evil corporation. Organic milk is $6/gallon? Hooray! Take that, Monsanto. I am financing your destruction with my grocery bill.

    I love that the article described them as “getting desperate,” though I think that their crushing monopoly in many other ag products probably makes this not really the case.

    @shoegazer: Hehe! Couldn’t agree more (with both the sarcastic tone and the message).

  11. Terek Kincaid says:

    Ah, geez, I hate this “organic” food crap. All milk is organic. I’ve never seen synthetic milk. It would be way too expensive to try and make, anyway. If “organic” is supposed to mean no additional hormones/chemicals/whatever were used, then just say it that way. To say corn grown with fertilizer is not “organic” is just stupid.

    The “organic” farmers like to say there are no “synthetic hormones” in their milk. That is misleading. Though I suppose you could technically make a synthetic hormone, again, it would be very expensive. The recombinant hormones are grown in bacteria by putting the gene for whatever hormone you want and letting the bacteria make it. Guess what, they make the hormone the exact same way we do: Watson-Crick dogma (DNA->RNA->Protein). Nothing synthetic at all, the proteins are as natural as anything else in your (or a cow’s body).

    So, the hormones are completely natural. So, now I guess we have to clarify that it is the unnatural addition of these hormones to the cow that is the problem. Well, I assume you get some BST when you drink “organic” milk, and that doesn’t seem to cause any problems. I guess maybe the increased concentration of BST could be a problem.

    But wait, aren’t we drinking this stuff? Do diabetics drink insulin? Did Barry Bonds (allegedly) drink his steroids? No, they inject them. Why? Maybe because your stomach is full of acid? Those proteins can’t last in such a low pH; they denature. Plus, your intestines don’t really have a mechanism to bring hormones into the bloodstream. You inject hormones into your blood because that’s where they work. Not your stomach.

    And one last nail in the “organic is awesome” coffin. Even if, for some reason, your body could absorb the hormone from the intestine, it still wouldn’t be a problem because it was already denatured and inactivated before you took the first sip: in this country, we pasteurize all of our dairy. The same process that cooks and kills bacteria will heat-denature those peptide hormones. In the case of BST in particular, here’s the proof:


    So, all this whining is for nothing. All of these “synthetic hormones” are destroyed in the pasteurization process anyway. You just get a few extra peptides, which is good for you anyway. I could make the argument that the “synthetic milk” is better than “organic milk” because it has an amino acid booster (like Zuka Juice or whatever).

    As a biochemist, it infuriates me to see people use bad science as a marketing tool. They say that “organic” is better, when in fact, it is just more expensive. They mislead about the “dangers” of recombinant DNA technology, when in fact they can’t find any cases of any problems arising from it. The “genetic engineering boogy man” is waiting for all of us, they say, when it is in fact just lie.

    If you like to support your local farmer, please buy his stuff. If you drink unpasteurized raw milk, well, you *might* have a point about the hormones, but I suspect you’ll have worse medical problems to worry about.

    Marketing and hype are no substitute for good science. You wouldn’t take AT&Ts word on anything; why would you take a hippie’s?

  12. hoo_foot says:

    As much as I hate the RIAA, Monsanto is more deserving of the “worst company in America” award.

  13. infinitysnake says:

    @terekkincaid: You’re confused. The legal definitition of “irganic” is exactly that- a product with no synthetic ingredients- aka pesticides, chemical additives, etc.

  14. rrapynot says:

    Hey TERREKINCAID. Arsenic is a naturally occuring element and therefore “Organic” in your reasoning. Can I sprinkle some on your breakfast cereal? There is the chemistry lab definition of Organic ie. containing carbon and then there is the food industry term “organic” that is defined in law.

  15. 3ZKL says:

    @terekkincaid: “As a biochemist, it infuriates me. . .” REALLY?!

    maybe everyone who drinks milk (and eats meat) should goto grad school as well so they can form their own ridiculous opinion regarding whether or not growth hormones can be passed along & absorbed by human stomachs.

    perhaps you could spend some time reading the numerous published scientific studies out there which prove a link between hormone injected cows & cancer. or are they all published by hippie propagandists, too?

    what about the resistance to antibiotics passed along to humans? and the traces of pesticides that all of the pasteurization in the world will not get rid of.

    dont get me wrong, i love milk more than you could imagine. but ranting on the internet about how self-serving using ‘organic’ is when ‘everything is organic’ rubs me the wrong way.

    yes, the term ‘organic’ in science & ‘organic’ in ‘the real world’ are different. perhaps if you put down the textbooks & spent some time in the real world you would understand that not everything is so black & white. and not everyone who ‘buys into the organic hype’ is a hippie.

  16. vladthepaler says:

    Monsanto motto: An informed consumer is a bad consumer.

  17. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    All milk has hormones, because mammals naturally produce hormones that are expressed in their milk. The milk of different individual milk animals contains naturally different levels of the various constituent chemicals. Monsanto’s milk just contains extra hormones.

    Because my mom died from hormone-dependent breast cancer, I avoid dairy products in any form in which I might get the hormones. I don’t eat meat mostly because of its natural hormones, too. Basic biochemistry, people.

  18. Terek Kincaid says:

    @INFINITYSNAKE and RRAPYNOT: I’m not disputing what the legal definition of “organic” is. I’m saying it is misleading: if my product is not legally “organic”, people assume that it must be “synthetic” or “artificial”. The milk is milk. Run it through a mass spectrometer and you’ll see the same thing. They are both organic substances. Having an organic compound legally “not organic” is ridiculous in my eyes. It’s the same thing as saying gold is “metal” because it is pure out of the ground, but bronze is “not metal” because it is a mix of bronze and tin. One is an alloy, one is not, that is true, but they are both metal by any definition. Literally, saying milk from a cow treated with rBST is not organic is the same thing. Again, I agree that is the legal definition, but it should be changed, because it just doesn’t make any sense.

    @3ZKL First, not everyone who “buys into the hype” is a hippie; just the folks marketing the stuff are ;) And if you didn’t notice the winky there, I meant that as a bit of a joke on my first post.

    You made a lot of great claims there, but I don’t see any evidence to back it up. I was kind enough to link to a primary research article to back up my claims. You didn’t even give me a news article to look at, much less *any* specific examples. As far as I can tell, you are just talking out of your ass. Antibiotics will be denatured the same way by pasteurization; I have never heard of humans getting any antibiotic effects from drinking milk, and would be fascinated by evidence to the contrary.

    Pesticides do pose a different risk, I agree, but this post was specifically about hormone treatment of milk. I am not necessarily in favor of genetically engineering plants with pesticides until the full health effects can be studied. But as far as injecting cows with hormones, unless you can point me to some studies, I just don’t believe you. Sorry.

    And, aren’t you glad somebody is over here reading text books to let you know you don’t have to worry about rBST? Why do you believe the farmer over the corporation? They are both trying to sell you something.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m a simple American man who has a simple, optimistic faith in capitalism. If megacorp wants to push meat infused with shit, milk drowning in hormones and antibiotics, chickens so crowded that their beaks need to be burned off with soldering irons or they’ll peck themselves to death or douse their fields with so much fertilizer and poison that tributaries are choked and tainted, fine. Sounds like something that’s not particularly sustainable or moral, but fine.

    What exposes their evil is their lobbying to remove information that consumers demand to make valid choices. They’re anti-capitalistic, they are hostile to consumers and they lack faith (or more probably, realize the public is smarter than their business plans allow for) in the magic of the marketplace.

    In short, they’re anti-American. To Gitmo with them!

    (ahem). Accurate labeling laws. Let consumers decide. Stop trying to Orwellize accepted terms sought by consumers. No subsidies. The End.

  20. ahwannabe says:

    @terekkincaid: A lot of people who buy “organic” products do so because they perceive them as being less harmful to the environment, not for health concerns. Whether they’re right or wrong about this is a whole ‘nother argument, I’m just saying, all this talk about proteins and peptides isn’t likely to change their minds.

  21. Terek Kincaid says:

    That’s a perfectly valid point. If you buy organic for moral reasons (environment, cruelty to animals, etc), then by all means, please do so. I have no problem with “organic” foods per se. I just have a problem with the “organic” companies saying how dangerous the “synthetic” foods are for your health. They aren’t. The organic farmers are misusing science as a scare tactic to boost sales, and I hate that crap. Saying the “organics” are “safer” than the “synthetics” connotes that the “synthetics” are somehow more dangerous, and that is not true.

    I could care less if someone wants to spend $6 a gallon on milk to help out a cow; that’s fine. Just don’t do it because you think it is somehow safer, because it isn’t.

  22. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @ahwannabe: Wow, you sound as though the object is to “change minds,” not to get at the truth about adulterated food. Pretty telling.

  23. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @terekkincaid: I’m saying it is misleading: if my product is not legally “organic”, people assume that it must be “synthetic” or “artificial”.

    Um… evidence for that, please? Because I don’t know a single person who thinks that a non-organic tomato isn’t the same plant as an organic tomato, or that non-organic milk comes from robot cows. Even the vast unlettered masses can understand the legal definition of “organic.” I know, I know, you’re used to throwing your academic weight around and looking down your nose at us plebes, but please, give us some credit here.

    And the definition of “artificial” — we know what that means, too. If milk naturally has X amount of hormones, and Monsanto’s milk has 2X the amount because they added it in, I’d call that an artificial hormone level. See what I did there? Weird.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    “See what I did there? Weird.”

    Who says common sense is common? :)

  25. Terek Kincaid says:

    You made my point right there. The organic farmers should label their products as “containing natural levels of hormones”. That is pure, straightforward fact. If a farmer uses rBST in their cows, it would be truth in advertising for them to put “contains unnaturally high levels of hormones” on their carton, but I don’t think they would do that (just like the “organic” milk sellers don’t have to put “more expensive and may contain higher levels of bacteria” on theirs).

    And, I don’t think of anyone as a “plebe”, but I do think of some as fairly susceptible to marketing. I think everyone reading this blog is pretty resistant to marketing techniques. But most folks take something written on a bottle as authority. It’s not meant to insult yours or anyone else’s intelligence, it’s just a fact. They see “organic” on one thing, and not on something else, they are going to think there is something wrong with the “not organic” product. Morally, maybe there is, but scientifically, there isn’t.

  26. mrestko says:

    I agree with almost all of what you said, but I do have to object to one thing. Antibiotics, if they are found in cows milk, would not be “denatured” in the stomach. Anitbiotics are small molecules, not proteins (as I’m sure you know). They might be deactivated by different mechanisms, but denature has a specific meaning that you misused here. If you truly are a biochemist, then I’m sure this was just a typo/oversight. I’m not trying to flame you.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    @terekkincaid: perhaps i missed something. i thought the milk producers were just advertising their product as “hormone-free”, not organic.

    personally, i like the idea of injecting cows with hormones as much as i like the idea of injecting racing horses with lasix. sure, it makes them faster & stronger, but it also makes them drug dependent & less reliable.

    i’m not any kind of biologist, but i would imagine that there’s some sort of diminishing return at play here, which questions the ethics of the process. what happens when the hormones stop working for agnes the dairy cow & her production drops? *queue “taps”*.

  28. mac-phisto says:

    garelick farms advertises their products as “no artifical growth hormones” not organic.

  29. Perspex says:

    @terekkincaid: I hope you’re getting paid by Monsanto.

  30. kimsama says:

    @terekkincaid: Maybe because your stomach is full of acid? Those proteins can’t last in such a low pH; they denature. Plus, your intestines don’t really have a mechanism to bring hormones into the bloodstream. You inject hormones into your blood because that’s where they work. Not your stomach.

    Wow, maybe you should tell this to the millions and millions of women who successfully use oral contraceptives. I’ll bet they’d like to know that the hormones that they count on to stop ovulation just can’t possibly survive and make it into the bloodstream. ^_^

    You may want to be more careful with your statements about hormones. Steroid hormones can and do cycle through the hepatoenteric pathway and are absorbed into the bloodstream and the liver and then reabsorbed by the intestines through the secreted bile. Peptide hormones, on the other hand, are supposedly broken up in the digestive tract (BST is a peptide hormone).

    (btw, if you want to complain about the misuse of the term “organic,” you should be more careful with your fast-and-loose use of the word “hormone.”)

    Finally, there have been studies on the absorption of IGF-1 and rBST (e.g. this Canadian study, not surprising their whole country banned its use), suggesting that it’s possible that with repeated ingestion (particularly in conjunction with milk protein ingestion), IGF-1 and BST are absorbed.

    Frankly, if you want to take that chance with your health, feel free to do so, but I am glad there is a (clearly advertised) alternative.

  31. SOhp101 says:

    @terekkincaid: Everyone knows that Organic and natural are not synonymous. So what if the term doesn’t fit the scientific definition of organic? Misleading? maybe, but at least the USDA made an official definition of the term so companies won’t throw it around so easily.

    Some ‘organic’ foods do tend to taste better, believe it or not. Due to the fact that they can’t use chemicals to treat, production lines are dramatically reduced and produce is fresher.

    Regarding milk, chemicals do pass on through the mammary glands. Nearly every drug that out there has the warning “If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor.” However I’m not sure if BGH really does have an effect on humans.

    Overall I do agree with you. The organic craze is mostly hyped but there are certain produce that you should purchase organic, especially fruits that have thin skins (ex. peaches). I think there used to be a consumerist post showing what to buy organic and what you don’t really need to worry about.

  32. Terek Kincaid says:

    Yes, you are exactly right about the steroid hormones. I was trying to make a cute reference to Bonds, and I noticed the mistake after I posted. They can survive in the stomach, but I don’t think they are being used in cows.

    Also, remember, for all of this, the hormone/steroid/antibiotic has to go from the cow’s blood, to the breast milk, survive pasteurization, and your stomach acid. No peptides are going to survive that, and I don’t think many steroids get into the breast milk in the first place.

    About the antibiotics: you would be very surprised at the heat lability of most antibiotics. Also, milk from animals being treated with antibiotics is not allowed to be used for human consumption. Now I’m not sure if folks are following the law or not, but it is illegal, anyway.

    As far as that Canadian study, I’m sure that decision was more political than scientific, as such things usually are. Their big complaints were:

    “Evidence from the subchronic rat study submitted by Monsanto had shown that rBST was absorbed intact from the GI tract following oral administration, albeit at high doses, and elicited a primary antigenic response (IgG antibodies).”


    “IGF-l also can survive the GI tract environment to produce local effects. Under exposure conditions, which would mimic the human scenario (i.e., in milk), IGF-1 appears also to be absorbed intact from the GI tract.”

    Both of these “observations” do not take into account what I’ve been saying: this milk is all pasteurized. If you force-feed rats raw rBST, yes, it may survive intact. Or not. They didn’t even talk about activity. They just complained it had an immunogenic response, which is probably due to the “high doses”. Nothing about actually BST activity. And the same thing with the IGF-1. How was it given? Was it pasteurized first and then given to the rats? I don’t think so.

    You can stuff rats full of Wonder Bread and it will kill them. Would you call Wonder Bread poisonous?

  33. 3ZKL says:

    @terekkincaid: hey, we are on the same page (i was giving you slash the world a hard time about the textbooks anyway). besides, the textbook comments relate only to your broad statements about how things can or cannot be processed by the body from an almost purely textbook point of view.

    as for resources & articles, i would suggest — [www.psrast.org] — as a starting point. there are a wealth of studies & scientists both domestic and abroad studying the effects of growth hormones & antibiotics on humans. in fact, as someone else mentioned above — such chemicals (and american milk) are banned in canada & europe.

    considering i work a full time job as a systems administrator, i dont have much time to keep up on my scholarly articles which are only slightly relevant to my interests. nor do i really want to flame bait you on here. so i will leave that to the rest of the consumerists.

    and for the record, i really love milk!

  34. 3ZKL says:

    @terekkincaid: [www.preventcancer.com]

    In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). According to rBGH manufacturers, injections of rBGH causes cows to produce up to 20 percent more milk. The growth hormone also stimulates the liver to increase IGF-1 levels in the milk of those cows. Recently, Eli Lilly & Co., a manufacturer of rBGH, reported a ten-fold increase in IGF-1 levels in milk of cows receiving the hormone. IGF-1 is the same in humans and cows, and is not destroyed by pasteurization. In fact, the pasteurization process actually increases IGF-1 levels in milk.

  35. kimsama says:

    @terekkincaid: You quoted the part of the study where it specifically states the conditions mimicked human intake: “IGF-l also can survive the GI tract environment to produce local effects. Under exposure conditions, which would mimic the human scenario (i.e., in milk), IGF-1 appears also to be absorbed intact from the GI tract.”

    I’m not so sure that all of the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, et al made their decisions based on politics instead of science. But considering the fact that the the U.S. makes most of its decisions on Big Ag based on politics, I’m not sure science was really much of a factor in our case, either, except to rubber-stamp rBST.

    Your analogy to Wonder Bread is also fallacious. The mechanism by which too much Wonder Bread would kill a mammal would likely be one of overfeeding, not one that mimics the “human scenario.”

    I am not posting this to convince you (as you appear to be convinced of your own position, as I am of mine), but to provide a counterpoint to your arguments that are just as scientifically valid.

    Seriously, heated scientific debate is a good thing. But I would not be so willing to trust Monsanto, especially if I were a biochemist.

  36. andrewsmash says:

    @terekkincaid: And yet pre-teen pubescence and antibiotic resistant strains are at an all time high. Don’t tell me that it’s completely unrelated. As to the breakdown of hormones and antibiotics in the digestive tract – that would only be true if you are expecting 100% breakdown. Since most children and elderly people have either underdeveloped or compromised stomach Ph production, that means that the possibility of intact molecules making through to be processed by the liver is still high, and even micro-dosages can have a medicinal effect (see birth control pills for an example.) And even if the active molecules are broken down, it still leaves you with a high level of precursors, which the body may take as a sign that it needs to create either more or less of the found substance in order to achieve homeostasis. If you want to dither about whether or not a naturally-derived hormone administered in by man in therapeutic doses is still “natural” go ahead, but it still sounds like astro-turf to me.

  37. mrestko says:

    @3ZKL: By what possible mechanism could pasteurization increase the level of IGF-1 in the milk (vs. unpasturized, i assume)?? Heating a mixture will not just cause a spontaneous increase in the levels of a protein. Your “preventcancer.com” link is just to an FAQ and the papers it references are published in the International Journal of Health Services which has an impact factor of 0.878 (low). I can’t read the papers since the college I attend does not subscribe to them (which should also tel you something).

    Don’t just gulp down information without checking the sources!

  38. mrestko says:

    @andrewsmash: Andrewsmash, do you want to give us references? When small molecule hormones break down, they don’t necessarily break down to their biosynthetic precursors. Look at any biochemistry textbook for examples of how steroids are synthesized by the body and you’ll understand why what you’re suggesting isn’t likely to be a problem. Additionally, something as highly regulated as hormone synthesis isn’t influenced by the concentration of precursors–that would lead to uncontrolled synthesis of potent molecules the body doesn’t need. Again, this is basic biochemistry.

  39. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    Dear Gawker
    Apparently its time to start a science blog.
    Conversation is getting waaay too heady in here.
    I’m taking my History degree and getting the fudge out!

  40. 3ZKL says:

    @mrestko: its on the internet, it must be true!

    sorry. i was not aware that the international journal of health services was the national enquirer of science publications. at least they have sources listed though, right?

    i am going back to administering systems now. science nerds please continue.

    ps.. I LOVE MILK

  41. Terek Kincaid says:


    Well, bacteria are going to be more resistant to antibiotics the more we use them over time. I bet if you plot the number of antibiotic-resistant strains vs years since antibiotics first started being used, you’re going to see it scream steadily upwards. It has nothing to do about it possibly being in our milk. And remember, there aren’t supposed to be antibiotics in milk; those cows are supposed to be sidelined.

    The pre-teen pubescence is related to obesity:
    And pediatrics has an impact factor of 5 (astronomical in that scale; it is the highest rated pediatric journal). That IGF-1 paper is in a journal with a 0.08 factor: my high school newsletter probably had higher circulation. I, too, am having trouble getting that paper, but I am looking for it. However, that Epstein guy is a notorious cancer doom and gloomer, and has received letters from the FDA criticizing his work. Also, notice he works alone. I’ve never seen any major papers come out that didn’t have 3 or 4 names on them. It’s just impossible to do that kind of real work by yourself. I knew professors like him, alone, in their closets, working out conspiracy theories. Their work was crap and got published in crap journals, if anywhere.

    Again, bad science and speculation everywhere. Please cite a source or just face it: your organic heaven is a marketing scam, like most everything else.

  42. kimsama says:

    I would recommend that those who wish to become educated on this issue read the original journal article that two FDA scientists published promoting rBST:

    Juskevich, J. C. & C. G. Guyer (1990). Bovine Growth Hormone: Human Food Safety Evaluation, Science, 249, 875-884

    In it, you’ll find that the scientists admit that IGF-1 is identical in cows and humans (879), that it increases significantly in the milk of cows given rBST (882), that it increases more and more as the length of time a cow is treated with rBST increases (883), and that it is not destroyed by pasteurization (882).

    Interestingly, there is no study sited by the FDA in which IGF-1 uptake in humans is directly studied. The closest they come is citing a study on rIGF-1 (rat IGF-1) uptake in rats (880-881), performed by Monsanto, which lasted two weeks. I doubt the validity of a study in which the time horizon is so limited when examining the effects of a growth hormone. Also, it is of note that rIGF-1 and IGF-1 (found in humans and cows) are different.

    The FDA scientists do admit that there is evidence proteins are absorbed intact (876), both in adults and neonates. Other studies would seem to support the conclusion that even rIGF-1 is absorbed, contradicting the Monsanto findings (W. Thornburg et al (1984). Gastrointestinal absorption of epidermal growth factor in suckling rats, American Journal of Physiology, 246, G80-G85; C. Xian (1995). Degradation of IGF-1 in the Adult Rat Gastrointestinal Tract is Limited by a Specific Antiserum or the Dietary Protein Casein, Journal of Endocrinology, 146(2), 215).

    I would also remind consumers that the FDA is not infallible (Vioxx, anyone?), (see also: (1990) GAO Report: FDA Drug Review: Postapproval Risks, 1976-1985).

    Frankly, I’m a little surprised at the willingness of anyone (particularly someone in the sciences) to buy Monsanto-financed research and the shoddy research the FDA cites. I would not feel comfortable drinking milk from rBST-treated cows after reading the Juskevich & Guyer article. Two-week duration studies? Studies based on rIGF-1 being generalized to IGF-1? Populations of 8 cows in some studies? Studies financed by a business interest that wants a certain outcome?


  43. Terek Kincaid says:


    More distortion of the truth. What part on 882 did you read? The part that said the IGF-1 was not destroyed by pasteurization? What about the next sentence which states it was denatured? The activity was only 10% of the control. 10% of a trace amount. You are aware your body makes IGF-1, right? This is negligible to the amount your body makes.

    I don’t dispute that use of rBST increases IGF-1 in the cows, and that IGF-1 may not may not cause cancer, etc. I do dispute that there is a significant amount of active IGF-1 in pasteurized milk from rBST-treated cows. There is arsenic in a lot of drinking water. But guess what: it’s not enough to hurt you. It’s the same with this IGF. Maybe if you drink 2 gallons of milk a day, you might want to watch out. But a few glasses will do nothing.

    Thanks for article: it proved my point.

  44. Andronicus1717 says:

    “there aren’t supposed to be antibiotics in milk; those cows are supposed to be sidelined.” -andrewsmash

    My father is a dairy farmer and I’d like to confirm this fact to all of you people worried about antibiotics in your milk. Every tank of milk that is picked up is tested for a variety of things, protein, milk fat, somatic cell count, etc. It is also tested for antibiotics. If a dairy cow is administered antibiotics, it’s milk must be quarantined from the rest of the cows for a certain period. If antibiotics are found in truck’s tank, the entire load is dumped and the farmer responsible must buy the whole tank. So there is a great financial incentive for dairy farmers not to have untainted milk. These rules apply to the Michigan Milk Producers Association; I’m unsure of any other association or jurisdiction.

  45. kimsama says:

    @terekkincaid: It’s obvious that you really want to interpret all the evidence to mean that Monsanto = <3. If you love them, there’s not much I can do to change that.

    It’s sad you buy all the Monsanto-financed conclusions without really thinking for yourself, though. You uncritically just accept the conclusions of the studies without examining their many flaws. Monsanto would be proud.

  46. kimsama says:

    @terekkincaid: P.S. this part:

    “These results suggest that IGF-1 is not destroyed by the pasteurization process, but the heating of milk for the preparation of infant formula denatures IGF-1, with only a tenth of the concentration of the milk before heat treatment.”

    I think you may have misread it. Pasteurization doesn’t denature IGF-1, heating for infant formula does. (They give the temp of infant formula prep as 250F, I believe pasteurization is 145F).

  47. Terek Kincaid says:

    I’ll just paste the conclusions from that paper, and let folks decide for themselves:

    The data evaluated by the FDA document the safety of food
    products from animals treated with rbGH. Bovine GH is biologically
    inactive in humans; therefore, residues of bGH in food products
    would have no physiological effect even if absorbed intact from the
    gastrointestinal tract. The possibility that fragments of bGH produce
    metabolic effects in humans is not a basis for concern as it is
    unlikely that any active fragment could be produced in biologically
    significant amounts in the gastrointestinal tract. Very mild hydrolysis
    conditions are necessary to retain even the limited activity
    observed in test animals. NObral activity was found when rbGH was
    administered to rats at exaggerated doses. lnaddition, very limited
    residue studies suggest no significant increase in milk concenttations
    of bGH due to of dairy cows with rbGH. Funhermore,
    90%of bGH in milk is destroyed upon pasteurization, and
    rbGH treatment appears to have no significant impact on the
    nutritional quality of milk.
    The FDA conduded that an increase in growth factors secondary
    to rbGH treatment was unlikely to present any human food safety
    concerns. Nonetheless, the FDA felt it was important to establish
    the range of concentrations of growth factors after rbGH treatment
    and the potential for oral activity ,because of the widespread use of
    milk-based infant formulas. IGF-I was chosen as the growth factor
    for study because it is the major factor that mediates the effects of
    The oral toxicity studies demonsttated that rIGF-I was not active
    at doses up to 2 mglkg per day in rats. Additional information,
    collected to resolve any concern for potential neonatal exposure to
    IGF-I, demonsttated that IGF-I is denatured by the process used to
    prepare infant formula, which eliminates any basis of concern for
    minor increases in IGF-I concentrations in milk. Although limited
    information is available about the concentration of IGF-I in human
    milk, the data indicate that the concentration of IGF-I found in milk
    from rbGH-treated cows is within the physiological range found in
    human breast milk. On the basis of this information, the FDA
    scientists concluded that the use of rbGH in dairy cattle presents no
    increased health risk to consumers.

  48. Terek Kincaid says:

    Just a note: the average man is 86 kg, so to equal the conditions in rats, a person would need to ingest ~170mg of IGF-1.

    The paper says cows treated with hormones had ~6ng/mL. That means 1 liter of milk has 6 mg of IGF-1. That means you would need to drink about 28 liters of milk to get to that 2mg/kg dose that *didn’t even have an effect*. I don’t know if you’ve ever done the gallon challenge, but it’s pretty rough.

    In fairness, untreated cows only had about 1.5ng/mL of IGF-1, or about 1/4. So, if you really need to drink 50 liters of milk in a 48 hour period, please, for your own safety, make sure it is organic.

  49. Terek Kincaid says:


    I don’t really have any love for Monsanto. I saw a video, and the cows do look unhappy. They aren’t built for that increased milk production, and apparently they get sick more often. However, the video didn’t cite sources, so I’ll have to take it with a grain of salt (it was made by those fired Fox reporters, so it was obviously biased). They also mentioned there are already subsidies on milk, so we really don’t need more, anyway. All of that may be true. Monsanto may be the devil and this product may actually hurt dairy farmers. I have no idea. I don’t know jack about agricultural science or politics.

    But as a biochemist, I know at least the milk is safe to drink. And I am tired of the organic farmers using bad and distorted science to lie to the public about safety. They can bring up all those other points if they want, but I just can’t stand the lying.

  50. @terekkincaid: I suppose the anti-hippy line could mean that you’re not a shill, but rather Eric Cartman; either way…

    “The latest study[1] found a 7-fold increased risk of breast cancer among pre-menopausal women younger than age 51 with the highest levels of IGF-1 in their blood. The prostate cancer study published in SCIENCE in January, 1998, found a 4-fold increase in risk of prostate cancer among men with the highest levels of IGF-1 in their blood.[3] Thus IGF- 1 in blood is associated with larger relative risks for common cancers than any other factor yet discovered.[2]” (Don’t take my source’s word for it; Google “milk hormone breast cancer” and read any of the several THOUSAND citations those studies have received.)

    This also makes common sense, which I realize means that it melts executive-types at forty paces, so you may want to back away: IGF-1 is a GROWTH HORMONE targeting MILK PRODUCTION. If you continually give it to a WOMAN, it may cause UNHEALTHY LEVELS OF GROWTH IN HER BREASTS, i.e. cancer. Nobody is shocked by this who isn’t losing money because of it. Boooooo hoo.

  51. Terek Kincaid says:

    @Mary Marsala with Fries:

    I know my posts have been rather lengthy, but if you had read them, you would have noticed that I already agree that IGF-1 may be involved in increased cancer risk. I won’t even go into the cause and effect implications of those studies since I don’t know them in detail (basically, IGF may cause cancer, or cancer may increase IGF: you’d have to do the right experiments to determine the cause and effect).

    But regardless, the point I made in my previous post was that the *amount* of IGF found in milk (both from rBST-treated cows and non-treated cows) is very minute, much less than what your body produces naturally. And, I got the tables mixed up when I was pulling the values. Untreated milk has about 4ng/mL of IGF-1, while rBST-treated milk had 6ng/mL. So it is only a 50% increase instead of a 400% increase.

    So, if you are trying to get rid of all exogenous IGF in your life, more power to you, and you should avoid all milk. However, again, it is the distortion of truth that “organic” milk is safer than milk from rBST-treated cows. It isn’t. They are the same. There is no additional risk. And I wish the organic marketers would stop lying and saying there is.

  52. Mr. Gunn says:

    I gotta agree with TEREKKINCAID. An increase to 6 ng/mL from 4 ng/mL is vanishingly small. It’s a tiny increase in a hormone that isn’t really absorbed and wouldn’t have any effect if it was.

    I hate to take the side of monsanto in anything, but they’re right that implying that rBST free milk is somehow healthier is misleading, because there’s no evidence from a reputable source saying there is an effect.

    Any change in production practices, especially those involving “chemicals”, should be studied thoroughly and completely before use, but the criteria have to be consistent. Just because the levels of IGF1 in a cancer patient correlate with severity means nothing by itself. It’s such a common misunderstanding that scientists have a saying for it, “correlation doesn’t equal causation”. You’d have to show that the IGF-1 caused the cancer to get worse, rather than the cancer causing IGF1 levels to rise, or some third factor causing both IGF-1 levels to rise and cancer to get worse independently, before you can say that getting rid of IGF-1 is something worth doing. Then you’d have to show that the levels of IGF-1 in the bloodstream rose more after drinking hormone-treated milk than untreated milk. If the levels of IGF-1 in a hormone-treated milk drinker’s blood were significantly different from a regular milk drinker’s, and the whole causative link above was proved, then you’d have a case, but showing that one animal developed antibodies isn’t proof of anything.

    I understand the uneasiness towards things done by big faceless corporations, but beware of manipulation by companies who want to sell you the same thing for more money by concocting fake heath concerns. Another common logical fallacy is believing that because one company did something shady one time, any company in that whole industry sector is evil.

    [armchair philosopher mode on]
    In the end, there’s emotional intelligence and rational intelligence, and they both have their uses. I’ll bet anyone a million dollars that the person who uses rational intelligence to make decisions about spirituality or personal relationships will be misguided most of the time. Nerds aren’t just a stereotype. Is it so hard to understand that the converse, people who use emotional intelligence/intuition/street smarts to answer questions about the natural world will be wrong more often?
    [philosophy mode off]

  53. Terek Kincaid says:

    Thank you Mr. Gunn. I was feeling lonely ;)

    Also, I think most folks have stopped reading this thread, but for archival’s sake, I’d like to fix my incredibly bad math from the previous post. 6ng/mL is 6ug/L, not 6mg/L. So, instead of 28L of milk to hit that 2mg/kg dose, you’d need 28,000 liters (or about 7,000 gallons). So that’s just impossible :P

  54. Spooty says:


    Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    And that’s what the organic industry relies on, people thinking they know what “organic” means. It means one thing chemically, and something else legally.

    Learn about the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances” – it’s exactly that – a list of things that are allowed and prohibited in legally “organic” (and variations thereof) foods.

    Straight from the USDA, here it is: [www.ams.usda.gov]

    Note particularly the sections “205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production” and “205.603 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic livestock production.”

    I wish more people knew about this. Maybe not exactly a scam, but ignorance on the public’s part, and the organic industry relies on it.

  55. Spooty says:


    You’re wrong about “Due to the fact that they can’t use chemicals to treat…” [organic food]. It is not a fact at all. See my post above about the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.” Unless you’re going to play some word games that the “synthetic substances” allowed in legally “organic” food/livestock per sections 205.601 and 205.603 therein, “aren’t the same thing as “chemicals”.