Monsanto’s website provides false information July 24, 2007 regarding the European Union Ban on Posilac (rBST)
“Today, POSILAC has been safely used on tens of millions of dairy cows.”
link no longer functional
Why did FDA approve this drug for use in the U.S. when it is banned in Europe?
The European Community placed a ban on the use of rbST on economic and political grounds. This had nothing to do with rbST safety. In January 1993, the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products of the European Union reaffirmed that food products from cows treated with rbST are safe for human consumption, and they recommended the approval of two rbST products based upon their review of all aspects of safety and effectiveness.
The above link is no longer accessible
I decided to check out the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products report regarding rBST or Posilac.
Here’s the report
Report on Animal Welfare Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotropin
The Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products report for the European Union recommended a ban due to scientific evidence supporting the negative effects on the welfare of dairy cows. The information below was found at the European Union website explaining the scientific evidence used to base the policy ban on Monsanto’s Posilac. Here are their findings and recommendations below and you may also access the full report below.
13. Animal welfare can be assessed in a scientific way and indicators of welfare include those of physiological states, behaviour and health. A proper assessment of the effects of BST on the welfare of dairy cows must be based on the whole range of indicators that are available to measure welfare in these animals. As reviewed in the rest of this report some evidence concerning the welfare of cows treated with BST exists but studies using a wide range of welfare indicators have not been carried out.
14. BST usage increases the risk of clinical mastitis above the risk in non-treated cows. The magnitude of this increase has been variously estimated by meta analyses or large scale studies at 15 to 45%, 23%, 25%, 42% and 79%. Clinical mastitis is often a painful disease. The welfare of cows with mastitis is poor, the extent of poor welfare being dependent on the severity of the condition.
15. The duration of treatment for mastititis in BST treated cows was longer than in non BST treated cows.
16. An increased incidence of foot and leg disorders associated with the long term administration of BST has been described by several authors. In the largest scale study, the number of multiparous cows with foot disorders was increased by a factor of 2.2 and the number of days affected was increased by a factor of 2.1.
17. As a consequence of the nature of the different foot and leg disorders there will be pain and other suffering in these animals. Hence welfare will be seriously and adversely affected as a consequence of the BST treatment.
18. Injection site reactions occur in most cows injected with BST, but not with placebo, and are exacerbated by repeated injections. Studies have shown severe reactions in at least 4% of cows. The pain associated with this problem has not been adequately assessed.
19. There is evidence that BST treatment can adversely affect reproduction. Pregnancy rate dropped from 82 to 73% in multiparous cows and from 90-63% in primiparous cows, 75 gestation length was shortened by 2-4 days and the number of days open increased in primiparous cows. The effects do not carry over after cessation of treatment. The frequency of multiple births which can cause welfare problems, was substantially increased by BST. Failure to conceive is an indicator of poor welfare and multiple births lead to poor welfare.
20. The immuno-stimulatory effects of BST observed experimentally have not been confirmed clinically.
21. Very preliminary results indicate that GH might enhance the production of pathogenic agents that develop intracellularly, such as viruses. However, the importance of this effect for BST treatment and its functional consequences in vivo remain largely unknown.
22. BST treated cows often have a lower then normal body condition at the end of lactation and experience increased “off-feed” periods
23. The incidence of bloat, indigestion and diarrhoea has been shown to increase in BST treated cows.
24. BST lowers the ability to cope with high temperatures which in certain conditions can result in poor welfare.
25. The Post-Approval Monitoring Program study in the USA reported a higher culling rate in multiparous cows treated with BST.
26. BST usage increases the incidence of several disease conditions and hence is likely to increase the usage of veterinary medicines. Increased antimicrobial usage may lead to resistance to antimicrobials with consequences for the health of humans, cattle and other animals. This topic is the subject of a report of another Scientific Committee.
BST is used to increase milk yield, often in already high-producing cows. BST administration causes substantially and very significantly poorer welfare because of increased foot disorders, mastitis, reproductive disorders and other production related diseases. These are problems which would not occur if BST were not used and often results in unnecessary pain, suffering and distress. If milk yields were achieved by other means which resulted in the health disorders and other welfare problems described above, these means would not be acceptable. The injection of BST and its repetition every 14 days also causes localised swellings which are likely to result in discomfort and hence some poor welfare
BST use causes a substantial increase in levels of foot problems and mastitis and leads to injection site reactions in dairy cows. These conditions, especially the first two, are painful and debilitating, leading to significantly poorer welfare in the treated animals. Therefore from the point of view of animal welfare, including health, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare is of the opinion that BST should not be used in dairy cows.
There was no recommendation or approval from the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products of rBGH to the European Union and no evaluation on the safety of the milk itself.
The report also followed up with the information below from Canada.
6.1.3. The situation in Canada
Over the years there has been a great deal of debate over this item in Canada, including the mastitis issue. Recently, the Canadian authorities made a submission to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) meeting in 1998 which e.g. refers to the risk of antibiotic residues resulting from treatment of mastitis in BST cows and to the expression of the opinion that: “The greatest hazard is the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria through the food chain, as an iatrogenic effect of treating mastitis in BST cows” (Canada, 1997).
In 1998 there was a report by scientists from Health Protection Branch, Health Canada which critically reviewed previous reports by Canadian authorities on the public health and human safety evaluations made. This included a conclusion that antibiotic resistance in farm-borne human pathogens associated with the increased risk of mastitis associated with the use of BST was not properly addressed so far, although it has obvious human health implications (Health Canada, 1998).
As recently as January 1999 the Canadian authorities finally decided, that BST should not be approved for use in Canada due to “ a sufficient and unacceptable threat to the safety of dairy cows”.
This was substantiated by a scientific report from a committee of veterinary experts headed by an internationally recognised veterinary epidemiologist, in which increased risks of mastitis, infertility and lameness were found (Health Canada, 1999).