CU's statement on Canadian ban of rbGH
Ronnie Cummins (email@example.com)
Mon, 18 Jan 1999 11:05:44 -0600 (CST)
>CONSUMERS UNION/CONSUMER POLICY INSTITUTE
>CANADIAN DECISION TO BAN USE OF RECOMBINANT BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE ON DAIRY
>January 15, 1999
>Victory for Consumers
>The decision by the Canadian government announced today to reject Monsanto's
>application for approval of recombinant bovine growth hormone in Canada
>(rbGH) is a tremendous victory for consumers.
>The Canadian decision calls into serious question FDA's 1993 decision to
>approve this drug in the United States, and to not require any labeling.
>FDA should immediately launch a process to reevaluate both the animal and
>human safety of rbGH use in light of the problems the Canadian authorities
>cite in these areas.
>Consumers who wish to avoid dairy products from cows treated with rbGH in
>the US can buy organic dairy products, or look for milk labeled "from cows
>not treated with rbGH."
>Canadian Experts Find Animal and Human Health Risks
>Canada rejected rbGH on animal health grounds, citing evidence that treated
>animals have a 25% higher rate of udder infections, an 18% higher rate of
>infertility, and a 50% increase in lameness.
>The Canadian government found "no significant risk" to eating dairy and meat
>products from treated animals, based on an outside expert review. However,
>the outside human safety review panel urged the Canadian government to
>require Monsanto to conduct a follow up study to a 90-day rat feeding study
>that showed antibody responses to rbST, in order to investigate possible
>hypersensitivity to rbGH.
>The FDA reported on this 90-day rat feeding study in Science magazine in
>1990, but claimed that the rats showed "no toxicologically significant
>changes." Consumers Union has called on FDA to explain why it misled the
>public about the findings of this confidential study and has joined in a
>petition filed by the Center for Food Safety asking FDA to conduct a full
>toxicological assessment of rbGH.
>Canadians Conclude rbGH Increases Antibiotic Use
>The Canadian expert review panel on human safety also flagged antibiotic use
>and increased levels of a hormone called IGF-1 as areas of concern. The
>panel stated "It can be assumed that this increase in incidence of clinical
>mastitis [in treated cows] will result in a corresponding increase in use of
>antibiotics." While the Canadian experts correctly point out that this
>increase will be "marginal" in comparison to huge amounts on antibiotics
>currently used in animal feed and to cure other humans and animal diseases,
>Consumers Union believes that any unnecessary use of antibiotics should be
>Reducing antibiotic useówhich is what we will have to do to control
>mushrooming resistance of bacteria to these valuable drugsówill have to be
>done by thousands of small increments, ranging from doctors exercising
>restraint in prescribing antibiotics for respiratory ailments, to reductions
>of animal feed uses. Consumers Union believes that since rbGH's only
>purpose is to increase milk output, and milk is already in surplus in North
>America, this is not a goal for which we should tolerate any increase in
>antibiotic use whatsoever.
>Canadians Flag IGF-1 as Area of Concern
>Use of rbGH raises the levels of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk and meat of
>treated animals. The Canadian panel notes data showing that IGF-1 "may play
>a role in the pathophysiology of neoplasia," or in layman's terms, may play
>a role in promoting the growth of tumors. The panel concludes "There is
>considerable scientific interest in IGF-1 effects and the worldwide enquiry
>will undoubtedly continue with further clarification of any role in cancer
>played by IGF-1."
>The Canadian experts conclude that based on current knowledge, in their
>view, the increase in IGF-1 in milk poses no health risk, since among other
>things, the body manufactures IGF-1 itself. However the panel "recognizes
>major difficulties in drawing inferences about the potential for indirect
>human toxicity related to the increased production of IGF-1 in recipient
>Consumer Right to Know
>Consumers Union believes that all genetically engineered food, including
>food produced with the aid of genetically engineered products like the drug
>rbGH, should be labeled. Numerous polls have found that an overwhelming
>majority of consumers want such labeling.
>The FDA has not only failed to require labeling of milk from rbGH-treated
>cows, it has thrown roadblocks in the way of dairies which wanted to label
>their milks as NOT from treated cows. In particular, it has suggested that
>if milk is labeled as coming from untreated cows, the label should also say
>that "No significant difference has been shown between milk from
>rbST-treated and non-rbST- treated cows." Consumers Union believes that
>this phrase is incorrect.
>FDA Action Needed
>Consumers Union believes that FDA should immediately reevaluate its approval
>of rbGH. The Canadian government's decision was, among other things, based
>on a considerable amount of recent data on animal and human health risks.
>US and Canadian law both require veterinary drugs to be safe for both
>animals and humans.
>Contact: Mike Hansen, Ph.D./Jean Halloran
> Consumer Policy Institute/ Consumers Union
> 101 TrumanAve., Yonkers NY 10703
> Phone: 914-378-2455
> Fax: 914-378-2928
Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action
860 Hwy 61
Little Marais, Mn. 55614
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