After hours of happy play with her friends and with the three huge dogs who adore her, my high energy 18-month old daughter loves to curl up on the living room rug with a baby bottle full of fresh milk. First, she fluffs up a pillow, then rolls into her favorite kick-back position, and for a moment, triumphantly hoists the bottle on high like an Olympian basking in the glory of winning her first gold medal. Within two minutes, the lush liquid has been drained from the bottle, the baby is full, happy, and sound asleep. Soon after, I carry her upstairs to her crib, trailed by one of our three, 150-pound, bright-eyed Newfoundland dogs who curls up just outside the nursery to watch over the toddler he loves more than anything. It would be a big mistake for an intruder to enter our home, a fatal error to present even a hint of menace to the baby.
But it takes more than devoted guard dogs and loving parents to shield kids from invisible threats -- like the increased risk of cancer that independent scientists maintain may come from drinking milk from cows treated with genetically engineered BGH (bovine growth hormone), which the U.S. government poses no danger to consumers. In fact, if it were not for a small collection of natural food companies, activists, and a handful of scientists who dare to challenge current scientific gospel, you would be in the dark on this issue and without any options to exercise when it comes to the dairy products you put in your mouth and in the mouths of those you love.
If the critics are correct, what's at stake could be a
matter of life and death and not only for babies. The critics say—and
there is new evidence to support them -- that consuming BGH-boosted dairy
products could contribute to your developing cancer of the prostate and
colon and present the women in your life with a heightened risk of breast
cancer. And last fall Canadian government health officials triggered
a scandal when they complained to their union that their bosses, senior
regulators in Canada's version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
were pressuring them to give the green light for BGH use in Canada even
though the investigators believe it poses potential health risks to both
cows and humans.
In the 1980's four U.S.-based chemical companies were competing in a high stakes race to create and market the first FDA-approved genetically engineered veterinary drug -- Bovine Growth Hormone -- a substance that biologically tricks cows into producing lots more milk. The winner would seize the high ground in a battle for what was perceived as a multibillion-dollar global markets. There had to be a big payoff; it was costing tens of millions to develop the drug and it would cost lots more to sell it. Corporate careers would be on the line. Winners would be richly rewarded. Losing was unthinkable.
But in April of 1988, Monsanto, the winner in that race, seemed to be in trouble with the FDA. In a 14-page letter evaluating the company's application for review, the FDA slapped Monsanto for sloppy work that failed to answer crucial questions. For example, on page 6, paragraph 8 : "You have not established a margin of safety nor have you established a no-effect level for some of the parameters in your submission." (As you read on in this article, remember that phrase, "no effect.")
The highly critical letter was signed by Richard Lehmann, PhD, at the time, director of the division of production drugs at the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. His top Veterinary Medical Officer on bio-engineered Bovine Growth Hormone was Richard Burroughs, DVM, a Cornell University-trained animal doctor with almost 10 years in government service. Dr. Burroughs had been in private practice and developed expertise on dairy herds. The FDA hired him in 1979 and thought so highly of him that the agency sent him off for advanced studies in toxicology. Then he got his biggest assignment.
"Because I was the only one in the unit who had real dairy herd experience, when these Bovine Growth Hormone applications began coming in, my boss handed them to me," Dr. Burroughs told me during a recent interview.
Naively, Dr. Burroughs approached his task of testing BGH as though he were merely doing the job of protecting the health of farm animals -- not making decisions that could put at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, to say nothing of the careers of the executives who had spent that money. Then there were the big dairy owners and the stockholders of the chemical companies -- they had all been told that BGH was going to be a gold mine for them, too. And don't forget the politicians whose hands are routinely out to both the dairy interests and the chemical companies. Dr. Burroughs didn't have a clue and he became an almost immediate roadblock to the fast track that all those interested parties hoped for and expected. Without realizing it, Dr. Burroughs set about offending all of those groups by ordering a longer, more complicated, more detailed, and more exacting set of tests of the drug's impact on cows than anyone in that collection of stakeholders wanted or anticipated.
One specific example: Dr. Burroughs learned that the original plan called for a single lactation study to prove that BGH effectively triggers a boost in milk output. But Dr. Burroughs said that wasn't adequate as a safety test. He insisted on "doing at least a 2-year study because the test cows have to get bred, they must have calves, and they have to survive at least a second and third lactation. Otherwise it's not a viable product."
At first, Dr. Burroughs' bosses let him do his job as he saw fit. He was worried that the companies hadn't done adequate testing of the drug to determine whether it could be harmful to cows, perhaps by damaging their immune system. "I mean, it was a totally new drug," he says. "And we didn't know what its impact would be on cow health. We already knew about the increased risk of mastitis -- infection of the udder -- and the resultant likely requirement for increased use of antibiotics, but we needed to know a whole lot more. Some of the cows in early studies of BGH by another company wouldn't breed at all." (In 1991 the Rural Vermont Farm Advocacy Group revealed, according to the Rutland Herald, "that an unusually high number of…BGH-treated cows and their offspring had health problems, including difficulty in breeding and produced deformed or stillborn offspring.")
So Dr. Burroughs ordered FDA toxicology and immunology tests to try to answer those questions. About a month later, on November 3, 1989, he was summoned to a supervisor's office and fired. Immediately after the agency threw him out, Dr. Burroughs told me, he learned that "they had quit doing the toxicology studies I'd requested." In an interview with the Humane Farming Association, which the HFA posted on its Website, Burroughs said, "I was told that I was slowing down the approval process. It used to be that we had a review process at the FDA. Now we have an approval process. I don't think the FDA is doing good, honest reviews anymore. They've become an extension of the drug industry."
Today Dr. Burroughs is rebuilding his private practice, but he still cannot fathom the way he was treated by the FDA's bureaucracy. His firing, according to an FDA personnel official, was motivated by "performance-related" matters. When PENTHOUSE sought comment from Dr. Lehmann on Dr. Burroughs' job performance, Lehmann refused to discuss the case, saying, "I've been retired from FDA for five years. I did have something to do with [Dr. Burroughs being fired] but I am not going to discuss it."
Unencumbered by the likes of Dr. Burroughs mucking up its plans, the FDA proceeded along the track of approval for BGH despite alarmed appeals from organizations like Consumers' Union, publisher of Consumer Reports so many Americans rely on to sort out the truth about product claims. In an April 5, 1993 letter to then-FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, Consumers Union called into question a sudden change in the use of language by the FDA:
"We are seriously concerned that, in its deliberations on whether to approve Bovine Growth Hormone, the [FDA's] Center for Veterinary Medicine is introducing an entirely new regulatory concept that is not authorized by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act--the concept of 'manageable risk'.
"In a discussion at the FDA's Veterinary Advisory Committee on March 31, 1993, the Committee was asked to consider whether the increased incidence of mastitis caused by BGH use represents a 'manageable risk.' The Committee (with the exception of its consumer representatives) then concluded that the risks to human and animal health are 'manageable' and that BGH therefore should go forward.
"This is the first we have heard of 'manageable risk' as a standard for approving a veterinary drug for use in a food animal," Consumers Union said and went to remind the FDA of the agency's own letter dated April 3, 1988, which expressed concern to Monsanto that the company had not demonstrated a 'no-effect' level for side effects from BGH: "You have not established a margin of safety nor have you established a no-effect level for some of the parameters in your submission. . .this is particularly true for clinical entities such as mastitis . . . it is clear from the data presented that if you seek approval of a range of 250-500mg [of BGH] in cows/heifers you may not have even a 1x margin of safety. Under current standards, this is unacceptable for an over-the-counter approval.
"We think it appropriate," Consumers Union continued, "that to obtain approval of a production drug, a drug not designed to cure any known disease, a manufacturer should be required to demonstrate no adverse side effects at the level it is proposing for commercial use. In fact, we would expect that [the FDA] would impose a margin of safety so that there would be no adverse effect at five times the proposed dosage level.
"Unfortunately, it begins to appear that FDA is revising its criteria for approval to accommodate Monsanto's needs. After apparently years of trying, Monsanto has been unable to demonstrate a "no effect" level for BGH. The criteria for approval have therefore been revised to be whether BGH use represents a 'manageable risk'."
Chew on that for a moment: Can't meet the existing criteria for safety approval? No sweat. Just get the criteria changed. Wouldn't you like to be able to do that on your job? Consumers Union might as well have saved its breath. The power behind BGH was not going to be denied.
Consumers Union told PENTHOUSE that the FDA in its reply attempted to trivialize the consumer group's profound concern, saying that effect that everything carries some risk.
I first learned of the most important facts in this story
because a computer scientist in California, who reads my reporting in PENTHOUSE
on the cancer drug hydrazine sulfate, took the time to email my editor
a copy of an excellent newsletter, Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly.
Rachel's editor, Dr. Peter Montague, had written in detail about what he
and others see as the emerging cancer threat from Posilac, Monsanto's trade
name for its bioengineered BGH. He also focused on the situation
of a husband-and-wife team of investigative reporters fired by the Fox-owned
TV station WTVT in Tampa for refusing to tell untruths or "water down"
the results of their investigation into Posilac after Monsanto apparently
intimidated the station's owners. Dr. Montague shared some of his
research documentation with me, for which I am grateful.
THE FOX AND THE SAMURAI
Last summer, Fox TV suffered the civil court version of a snap kick to the groin when a Florida judge refused to throw out a lawsuit against Fox by the two broadcasters fired by the company. They are Steve Wilson, among the industry's most famous and feared investigative reporters, and his wife, Jane Akre, another award-winning TV broadcaster. I knew Wilson more than 15 years ago when he and I worked in competing New York City TV newsrooms. I was often jealous of the hard-hitting, meticulously researched, substantive pieces he put on the air. His boss back then at WCBS-TV, Steve Cohen, now the news director at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles says, "Wilson was and is a true samurai journalist. He cares only about the story. He doesn't make nice with people and develop sources; he digs and digs. Steve Wilson will use anything he can get to help him discover and expose the truth and he is utterly relentless. Without making judgments on the current controversy, I can tell you Wilson is not the guy to hire unless you are ready for lots of heat. He is very much a big story reporter and with the big ones comes big heat."
Just ask Chrysler and Ford. Wilson's investigative reports on Chrysler's defective door latches and Ford's fire hazard ignition switches won major awards and clearly contributed to the public safety but cost the auto makers a pile of embarrassment and money. In doing those kinds of stories, Wilson had to learn a lot about defending his journalism against predictable challenges from big, powerful, angry businesses that employ expensive and high-powered legal talent. That made him even more careful but no less aggressive. In 1996, Wilson quit as senior investigative reporter for the syndicated TV show Inside Edition to spend more time with his wife and their new baby.
Then the Tampa TV station recruited Akre as a full-time anchor/investigative reporter, and Wilson part time to produce dramatic investigations starring Akre that would help the station build its ratings. When Akre proposed the idea of checking into Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone, its use in the sunshine state, and what that all means in terms of the public health, the station said go for it. Akre spent months doing interviews, unearthing documents, writing scripts with Wilson, and editing the taped pieces.
Just before the series was to begin airing, two important things happened: WTVT's sale to Fox was finalized and Monsanto threatened to sue Fox if Wilson and Akre went ahead with their planned story. On the last business day prior to the scheduled airing of the reports, Monsanto's New York City lawyer, John J. Walsh, faxed a five-page bomb to Roger Ailes, former top Republican-party media operative and now president and chairman of Fox News. Walsh reminded Ailes that Posilac had won FDA approval, attacked the reporters as biased and then got down to the implied threat of legal action against News Corporation, the Rupert Murdoch entity that owns Fox. "There is a lot at stake in what is going on in Florida," Walsh thundered, "not only for Monsanto, but also for Fox News and its owner. On behalf of Monsanto, I ask that you and your Fox News colleagues consider thoroughly what is at stake and the enormous damage that can be done by the reckless presentation of unsupported speculation as fact and the equally reckless publication of unsupported accusations or innuendo of fraud, deception, and bribery in connection with something as serious as the obtaining of approvals for a product such as [Posilac]."
Fox blinked. Maybe shuddered is a better word.
"Suddenly," said Wilson, "the series was no longer scheduled and we began an almost nine-month-long process during which Jane and I met with lawyers and station executives and rewrote the scripts more than 80 times! In my long career of investigative reporting never has there been such a transparent cave-in to prior restraint. Fox attempted to cover up the truth by firing us and then having a newly hired, less-experienced reporter redo the series leaving out crucial facts and reporting some of the same lies and distortions we refused to broadcast. It wasn't just what he left out, it was what he left in that makes his piece so egregious.
"It was," Wilson told me, "a clear-cut case not only of a news organization surrendering rather than having to face a potentially expensive battle over the truth in court, but also -- and Jane and I plan to so notify the Federal Communications Commission -- an instance in which a federally licensed broadcast station violated the law by instructing employees to report what the licensee knew to be false."
"Absolutely not!" roared Dave Boylan, general manager of WTVT, during a telephone interview with PENTHOUSE on October 29, 1998. For this interview Boylan assembled his news director, chief counsel, and new investigative reporter Nathan Lang, who strongly rejected Wilson's assault on his re-working of the Akre-Wilson project.
"For the record," said Lang, "we left out no crucial facts. There were no lies and no distortion, and we stand by the stories we aired -- which altogether amounted to almost a half-hour of air time."
During the same session, WTVT news director Phil Metlin labeled Wilson and Akre "two desperate journalists who hide behind the shield of ethics in journalism in what is clearly a matter of a dispute with management over not having their contracts renewed. It's a sad day for journalism."
A week before this conversation took place, these two "desperate" reporters had received the pretigeous Ethics in Journalism Award from the national Society of Professional Journalists!
In a 36-page document a Fox attorney mailed to the plaintiffs last August 28, Fox-owned WTVT-TV denies the claims of Wilson and Akre and asserts 19 "affirmative defenses." Fox's response to the suit claims the two journalists produced biased, one-sided reports, turned them in late, and failed to perform their tasks professionally. Fox claims that its only reasons for firing the two was their "contentious, argumentative, ad hominem, and vituperative conduct and their refusal to abide by [Fox's]'s established policies and procedures."
"Contentious and argumentative?" Akre responded in a statement posted on the Website she and Wilson created to tell their story after they were yanked off the air. "Just what is the proper response when a reporter is ordered to deliberately and knowingly lie or distort the truth in a news broadcast to the public? Every journalist has a moral and ethical responsibility to tell the truth as he or she knows it. And when you're using the public airwaves to broadcast your reports, it is a legal requirement. When Fox threatened to fire us for upholding those basic principles, we believed we had a clear legal and moral duty to resist their directions to break the law and violate the public trust. Steve and I are both confident the jury will see these personal attacks for exactly what they are, efforts by a desperate defendant who has little legitimate defense for what they've done."
Reporting on the Akre-Wilson case, the London Observer said, "Murdoch owns, among many, many other companies, Actmedia, a PR firm. Monsanto is one of its clients. But Akre and Wilson do not believe that they were knifed simply to avoid upsetting one of the old brute's customers. They see the censorship as the natural consequence of the domination of communications by very right-wing businesses whose owners have more in common with the perpetrators of scandals than their audience."
"We set out to tell the truth about a giant chemical company", says Wilson. "That used to be something reporters won awards for. As we've learned the hard way, it's something you can be fired for these days."
What Wilson and Akre wanted to report is available from their Website -- http://www.foxBGHsuit.com. From one of the more than 80 drafts of that report, all of which were found unacceptable by Fox management, these are some of the major points:
"When the cow gets injected with [Monsanto's] BGH, it stimulates the production of another hormone called IGF-1. That's really the stuff that speeds up the cow's metabolism, causing her to produce up to 30% more milk. But some scientists like Prof. Samuel Epstein, MD of the University of Illinois' School of Public Health in Chicago, are warning what might be good for the farmers' bottom line may be big trouble down the line for people drinking the milk from treated cows. Since 1989, Epstein has warned the government, the medical community, and the public that 'there are highly suggestive if not persuasive lines of evidence showing that consumption of this milk poses risks of breast and colon cancer.'
"Dr. Epstein has earned three advanced degrees, including a medical degree, written eight books, and is frequently called upon to advise Congress about things in our environment which may cause cancer. He and others like Dr. William von Meyer point to what they say is a growing body of scientific evidence of a link between IGF-1 and human cancers which would not show up for years to come.
"'We're going to save some lives if we review this now. If we allow BGH to go on, I'm sure we're taking excessive risks with society,' said von Meyer who has spent 30 years studying chemical products and testing their effects on humans. 'A human drug requires two years of carcinogenic testing and extensive birth defect testing. BGH was tested for 90 days in rats.'
"Monsanto has consistently rejected the concerns of dissenting
scientists around the world. Dr. Robert Collier, chief Monsanto BGH
scientist says, 'In fact, the FDA has commented several times on this issue
after there were concerns raised. They have publicly restated human safety
confidence this is not something knowledgeable people have concerns about.'"
PILE-UP OF NEW EVIDENCE
Only a month after the Tampa husband-and-wife reporting team was given the boot, more frightening news about IGF-1 began breaking in peer-reviewed scientific publications. In a January 1998 issue of the journal Science, a team of Harvard medical researchers reported that men with elevated but still normal levels of IGF-1 in their blood are four times more likely to get prostate cancer than men with average IGF-1 levels.
This is a pretty tough study to ignore; it drew on a data base of 15,000 men. The authors of the report said, "Our results raise concern that the administration of [human growth hormone] or IGF-1 over long periods as proposed for elderly men to delay the effects of aging may increase risk of prostate cancer." If they're right, what could giving milk from BGH-boosted cows to male babies mean in terms of their later-life risk of prostate cancer?
Then in May, another solid piece of medical research appeared in The Lancet, Britain's premiere medical journal. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that women under 51 with the highest concentrations of IGF-1 in their blood ran a sevenfold increased risk of being stricken by breast cancer. The blood used in the statistical analysis was collected in 1989 and 1990 from 32,826 healthy nurses, 397 of whom ultimately were diagnosed with breast cancer, and all of them had highly elevated levels of IGF-1 both when they were healthy and when they were sick.
On the basis of those two major research findings on IGF-1, I wrote to the FDA asking if the agency had seen the studies and if so, did it plan to withdraw its approval of BGH. A letter of reply dated July 14, 1998, says "Dear Mr. Kamen, FDA is aware of the articles in Science and Lancet [but the FDA] is not planning to reconsider its approval of Monsanto's. . .product, Posilac. . .FDA's determination that [BGH] is safe was recently confirmed by the World Health Organization and U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives."
But the man who is probably the most potent single critic of BGH, the University of Illinois' cancer and environmental medicine expert Dr. Sam Epstein, who first warned of a cancer threat from bgh in 1989, told me WHO's Expert Committee functioned "more as a rubber stamp of the FDA than an independent body, with its membership overwhelmingly reflecting the influence of U.S. regulatory officials, dairy and chemical industry consultants, and food and veterinary scientists. Not a single public health expert, not a single expert on cancer or preventive medicine sits on that committee." Epstein's new book, "The Politics of Cancer Revisited," documents the history of research into IGF-1 and how the government has ignored its stunning implications.
Dr. Epstein quotes a 1992 article by a research team unaffiliated with him and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The authors reported that the very effective breast cancer drug Tamoxifen works by reducing blood IGF-1 levels. And contrary to the assertions of Monsanto and the FDA that the IGF-1 produced by injection of Posilac doesn't get passed on to consumers of dairy products, Epstein says there is now convincing evidence that it does. Also contrary to current official science, Epstein reports IGF-1 is not destroyed by acid in the stomach and in fact is protected from digestion by casein, a milk protein. Rather it is passed along quite intact into your blood stream.
And the FDA? See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil of Monsanto. The company has steadfastly refused to make public the results of its rat studies which it says support the claim that the drug is harmless. Epstein, however, says, "The published summary of those studies--reported by the FDA in 1990--showed that even low levels of IGF-1 administered to rats for short periods of time induced powerful growth-stimulating effects--contrary to the misrepresentations of Monsanto and the FDA. This is consistent with my prior, public warnings that BGH-produced milk could lead to dangerous premature growth in infants quite apart from future cancer risks."
Not that it will surprise you, but Dr. Epstein is routinely put down by members of the medical establishment as "a gadfly." However his credentials are impeccable and his work speaks for itself: eight books and hundreds of articles, most of them published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
In the Introduction to Epstein's new book, Congressman
John Conyers, Jr., a pioneer in environmental and public health legislation
for the past 30 years, says Dr. Epstein truly understands the cancer crisis
in America and we should all "heed his clarion call" to prevention.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR
Let's take a quick, refreshing break from all this talk of deception and disease. In fact, let's have a nice, cool, drink of milk. Maybe we can join Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, Baltimore Orioles iron man Cal Ripken Jr., and that former "Baywatch" honey Yasmine Bleeth--all of whom posed for full-page "milk mustache" ads. After all, what could be wrong with milk?
The sheer power of the Dairy Council's long-running campaign
is impressive, but there are some naysayers. Newman's Own ice cream,
Ben and Jerry's, Fresh Fields Whole Foods, and a number of local dairies
now advertise their opposition to BGH and offer products that don't contain
milk from treated cows.
SCANDAL IN CANADA
Last fall, only days before the deadline for this article, a scandal of major proportions began to break in Canada. Six Health Canada scientists filed grievances before the Public Service Staff Relations Board, painting apicture of corruption around their government's review of Monsanto's BGH and other drugs that promise to yield huge profits if approved.
They said their supervisor in Health Canada, Canada's version of the FDA, had pressured them to quickly approve BGH, and one scientist testified before the board that there newly appointed director had warned that if they persisted in their slow, meticulous evaluation of drugs, he would transfer them to another department of government, where "they would never be heard of again." The pressure to quickly approve drugs was attributed to the powerful lobbying by industry of Health Canada officials.
At the same time, Sierra Club Canada made public documents that Health Canada apparently had kept from the Canadian Senate committee that is currently investigating BGH's safety for humans and animals. The documents reveal that Monsanto's claim--supported by the FDA--that the 90-day rat study demonstrated no negative health effects from BGH is not true. The suppressed documents reveal that 20-30 per cent of the rats fed the highest doses of BGH produced antibodies to the drugs. Some rats also developed cysts of the thyroid and early signs of harm to the prostate-all strong warning signals that more investigation must be done.
In their scathing critique of Health Canada's early report on Posilac, an internal review team of scientists said the initial reviewer had accepted "the assertion by the manufacturer that [BGH] does not cause cancer in man or animals without providing a rationale. . .There are reports on file that Monsanto pursued aggressive marketing tactics, compensated farmers whose veterinary bills escalated due to increased side effects associated with the use of [BGH], and covered up negative trial results. All four [original] U.S. manufacturers refused to disclose the lists of their research grants to US universities. . .
"The fundamental mandate of the Human Safety requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations toward any veterinary drug prescriptions for food-producing animals is to enlist each and every associated risk to human health and thereby limit its real and potential dangers to both society and the individuals within. This does not appear to have properly been followed toward the risk assessment of [BGH]. . .
"The only short-term toxicology study for three months in rats, was improperly reported to conclude that BGH was not and could not be absorbed into the bloodstream. The usually required long-term toxicology studies to ascertain human safety were not conducted. Hence, such possibilities and potential as sterility, infertility, birth defects, cancer and immunological derangement's were not addressed. Virtually no attention appears to be directed toward a critically anticipated increase in [BGH-related] infective mastitis in dairy cows and also the concomitantly expected increase in antibiotic therapy and antibiotic resistance in the farm-borne pathogens of humans. "
Embarrassed by that internal review, Canada's Health Minister sent the whole BGH issue to a pair of panels--one for human health and one for animal health. However, it was quickly learned that one of the "independent" experts had been a paid consultant to Monsanto. Another expert's wife was employed by Monsanto's wholly-owned subsidiary, Searle Canada, until a few months before the panel was formed. And critics called the animal health panel's objectivity into question because the panel was operating through the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, which had publicly endorsed BGH. The association's statement on BGH was pulled from its Website days after the senators questioned it.
In Vermont where consumer activists have led the fight
against genetically engineered BGH, the Vermont Public Interest Research
Group has delivered to their state's members of Congress copies of the
documents unearthed by the Canadian investigators.
The activists want Monsanto's FDA license to sell BGH pulled until the whole affair can be fully investigated based on the newly revealed data. But Monsanto's chief BGH spokesperson Gary Barton insists, "The FDA had this data all along," and issued its 1993 finding that BGH is harmless after reviewing that data.
What now? For its part, FDA has begun to run for cover. "We do not have data from the study," FDA spokesperson John Scheid told Vermont's Rutland Herald. Scheid said the FDA had relied on a summary of the data provided by Monsanto.
"That is both astonishing and, if true, appalling," says Consumers Union research scientist Dr. Michael Hansen. "How could the FDA have relied on a summary from a manufacturer with a billion-dollar interest in getting a product approved for market? What other summaries instead of actual data have been the basis for crucial decisions by the FDA? And finally, is the milk from BGH-treated cows safe? The painful but obvious fact is that we do not have reliable answers to these questions and we must.
"Consumers Union now urges Congress to fully investigate this matter including ordering an independent analysis of Monsanto's 90-day rat feeding study and meeting with the Canadian scientists who produced the important, new information about evidence of apparent toxicity."
If U.S. lawmakers fail to take that kind of action, it will be blatant evidence that Congress' soul has been sold to the dairy and chemical industries. Stay tuned. The Akre-Wilson case against Fox is scheduled to begin in Tampa very soon.
While we wait for the results of all of the above, my wife and I have decided to give our baby dairy products from non-BGH sources only, and we are treating ourselves with the same respect. Untreated milk, cheese, and yogurt are becoming available almost everywhere in the country. Drs. Burroughs and Epstein and others who seem to know what they're talking about highly recommend this course of action. . .Or you can trust the FDA.