Monday, August 23, 2010

Goodbye, Haagen-Dazs

Haagen-Dazs is not quitting... I am quitting them. Or at least until they stop using rBGH (bovine growth hormone) milk in their ice cream. Several other major brands have now guaranteed their dairy products are rBGH-free: Ben and Jerry's, Starbucks, Yoplait yogurt, Dannon, Tillamook cheese, Chipolte restaurants, and many more.

Haagen Dazs, Breyers, Edy's, Nestle's, Baskin-Robbins and others have not.

rBGH is a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone developed and marketed by Monsanto for years until they sold it in 2008 to Elanco, a division of the Eli Lily drug company. The hormone is injected into cows to increase milk production by 10-15%. However, the drug causes many problems in dairy cows such as painful mastitis, deformed calves and lameness, and is linked to health problems in humans. It has been banned in Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and all 27 of the European Union countries since the year 2000, if not before. Of course, Monsanto assures us it is safe.

A 1991 report by Rural Vermont, a nonprofit farm advocacy group, revealed serious health problems with the rBGH-injected cows that were part of a Monsanto-financed study at the University of Vermont. Problems included an alarming rise in the number of deformed calves and dramatic increases in mastitis, a painful bacterial infection of the udder which causes inflammation, swelling,11 and pus and blood secretions into milk12. To treat mastitis outbreaks, the dairy industry relies on antibiotics. Critics of rBGH point to the subsequent increase in antibiotic use (which contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria) and inadequacies in the federal government's testing program for antibiotic residues in milk13. The FDA relies on pasteurization to kill off bacteria, hormones and antibiotics in milk.

Injecting rBGH into dairy cows increases the amount of a substance called IGF-1 in their milk, by as much as six-fold (source). Why does that matter? The European Commission's authoritative international 16-member scientific committee reported the excessive levels of IGF-1 found in the milk of cows injected with rBGH may pose serious risks of breast, colon and prostate cancer.

How serious is the increased risk? According to an article in the May 9, 1998 issue of the medical journal The Lancet, pre-menopausal women with even moderately elevated blood levels of IGF-1 are up to seven times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with lower levels. (source) There are many links to studies about cancer risks from rBGH here.
How this nasty Monsanto drug became part of our dairy industry is well-noted in this article by John Robbins (son of Irving Robbins who co-founded Baskins-Robbins). Some of the other offensive moves by Monsanto and collusion by the FDA are reported (scroll down in the article) here. 

Several of my friends have developed breast cancer, and some had radical mastectomies. I'm appalled at the FDA for allowing continued use of unmarked rBGH in our milk supply (cheese, butter and yogurt are included, too). We are not allowed to buy raw milk because we "might" get foodborne illnesses, but we can have all the milk we want that could cause cancer.

So, Goodbye Haagen Daz... Goodbye Baskin-Robbins, Edy's, Breyers and anyone else who still uses rBGH in milk and milk products.


  1. I agree totally with you about the rbgh bovine growth horomone. One of the interesting things is that Pharmacia which is part of Monsanto is one of only two companies in the United States that sells the medicine that they give the cows when they have Mastitis.

  2. Interesting, hmm... the drug gives the cows mastitis, and then is used to treat it?

    Talk about generating a market... LOL.


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