Since the earliest days in the fight to keep rBGH out of the food supply, Dr. Samuel Epstein was the authoritative voice in the wilderness who, unlike the Food and Drug Administration, was warning the public about the ill effects of rBGH. He was criticized and belittled in the scientific community then, but now his way of thinking is gaining widespread acceptance.
From every vantage point save one, the genetically-engineered artificial growth hormone rBGH is a bad idea, a conclusion we reached back in 1993 when the FDA approved it. In our view, rBGH is a bio-technological solution to a problem that does not exist.
rBGH is not needed to increase America's supply of dairy products. Over supply by factory farms is a problem, not an answer.
rBGH is not needed to improve the health of dairy cows. The manufacturer's own label warns that the growth hormone can triggers adverse side effects that harm cows.
rBGH is not needed to help family farmers. Their costs already are too high, without another artificial chemical to buy. And the artificial hormone makes cows sick, leading to higher costs for veterinary care and antibiotics.
Its sole benefit is to enrich the coffers of the drug company that makes it and the corporate farms that use it.
Because of the harm to cows and family farms, Ben & Jerry's took a stand against its use. The family farmers of the St. Albans Cooperative from whom we get all our milk and cream pledge not to use rBGH on their cows. We wanted to educate our customers on rBGH issues and inform them that our suppliers don't use it. That didn't sit well with the proponents of this drug, and we were forbidden by three states from making these consumer-right-to-know statements.
Along with Stonyfield Farm and Organic Valley, Ben & Jerry's sued to preserve our right, and the right of every other food manufacturer, to label our products rBGH-free. We won, and now consumers can look on food labels and make an informed choice as to whether they want dairy products made with or without artificial growth hormones.
As a food company reliant on Vermont's family farms, we have strong views on these agricultural and consumer issues. We have followed the regulatory review of rBGH across the border in Canada, where concerns about possible human health impacts were raised. The Canadians said no to rBGH. With this new book, our friend Sam Epstein brings together the scientific evidence of the threats to human health by rBGH -- yet another chilling aspect of this unnecessary chemical.
Our thanks go to Dr. Epstein for this very useful compilation. It will contribute to the debate and help regulatory decision-makers see the error of their rush to judgement in approving this unnecessary and harmful drug.
As Arthur Schopenhaur said, "There are three steps in the revelation of any truth: in the first, it is ridiculed; in the second, resisted; in the third, it is considered self-evident." May Dr. Epstein's work help move us to the realization of that truth.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield