[NAFEX] OT Milk, Dumping, hormones, antibiotics

Naomi Counides naomi at oznayim.us
Wed Mar 11 16:28:52 EDT 2009

I am in no way as generally informed as Lucky.  However I do have goats and
on occasion they have had mastitis.  I can think of nothing more cruel than
to leave a sick animal without effective treatment.  Sometimes it is totally
subclinical and I suppose could go unnoticed and untreated.  But on the
other end was a doe with a 105 fever, would not eat.  I knew she was sick,
just did not know what.  Took her in to the Caine Vet Center of the U of
Idaho and they found the mastitis.  5 days on antibiotics (and some
banamine) and she was well with no scar tissue.  Without it I believe she
would have died.  Since it was my milk I fed it to kids for the withdrawal
time.  I have enough goats that I can select who will be house milkers. 

I do not know any organic dairy farmers. I do know professional dairy
farmers and they are a careful and conscientious lot. The one who comes to
mind most readily is highly observant, can spot a problem in the almost
invisible beginning stages at 50 feet, very intelligent, practical  and
obsessively clean. 

It is common practice on a real dairy to milk sick and treated cows
separately from what goes into the bulk tank. You cannot NOT milk them.  I
would explain why but it might be a bit graphic.  

-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
Lucky.Pittman at murraystate.edu
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:09 PM
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [NAFEX] OT Milk, Dumping, hormones, antibiotics

There are tons of misinformation circulated on the
internet with regard to 'hormones and antibiotics' in
conventionally produced meat and milk - most of it
fomented by vegetarian/vegan folks and animal-rights
groups like HSUS/PETA, who have an anti-animal
agriculture agenda, and unfortunately, some of the
'organic' and 'whole/raw foods' folks occasionally
ally themselves with these other nefarious
characters. Not a good choice, 'cause they'll be the
next target, if they continue to 'exploit' animals.
If one chooses to forego the consumption of meat,
milk, eggs, or conventionally produced agricultural
products, fine; that's a personal choice - just don't
push outright lies about how 'dangerous' the other
products are.

Conventional dairy cattle do develop mastitis on
occasion, and in the interest of the animal's health
- and that of potential consumers - they will be
treated with approved antimicrobials.  The list of
approved antibiotics for this purpose is quite small,
and appropriate approved withdrawal times are
well-documented.  Most dairymen will withhold and
dump milk from treated cows beyond the approved
withdrawal times, or perform approved 'cow-side'
testing of milk from that animal before allowing her
milk to go into the bulk tank.  
The milk processors collect a sample of bulk-tank
milk at each pickup, and each truckload of milk is
sampled prior to going into a larger silo.  I can
assure you that no dairyman wants to contaminate a
tankerload or silo of milk - because if antibiotic
residues above the allowable limit are detected and
traced back(and they will be), that tanker or silo of
milk WILL be dumped, and the offending producer will
be responsible for the value of that product.

'Organic' dairy cattle also develop mastitis - and
some would question whether it is humane for those
'organic' producers to refuse to treat those animals.
 Additionally, concerns are not unfounded about the
safeness of some 'organic' therapies.  

Are there antibiotics in the conventionally-produced
milk in your grocery?  Perhaps.  But at what level is
it a concern?  When our detection level is in the
range of parts per trillion or less, where do we draw
the line?  Zero residues?  Who decides where zero lies?  
Is it not ludicrous to say, as the NOP organic folks
do, that if a cow has ever had an antibiotic
injection at any time in her life, she can no longer
be considered 'organic' - or that if she's consumed
forages grown on soil that might have had a
'chemical' fertilizer application three or five years
ago, that she's not 'organic'. Sorry, it's 'straining
at a gnat'.

Hormones in meat and milk? Yes, they're there -
NATURALLY.  Dairy cows are female animals with
functioning ovaries that produce estrogen,
progesterone, testosterone.  Some of those hormones
will be present in milk.  It is not common practice
to inject any additional sex hormones into these
animals; it's hard enough to get a heavy-producing
cow bred back in a timely manner without screwing up
her hormone levels.
Estrogen, and compounds with estrogenic activity are
present in much higher concentrations in meat from
intact cows or heifers than from steers - even if
those steers had been implanted with one of the
approved growth-promoting implants, which have
estrogenic activity.  But even the levels of
estrogenic activity in meat from a cow or heifer are
miniscule when you compare them to the estrogenic
activity present in cabbage, beans/peas, or soybeans.
 So...if one is concerned about deleterious effects
of 'hormones in food', a vegan/vegetarian diet may be
more dangerous than one including modest intakes of meat.

As others have previously discussed, rBST is
indistinguishable from BST(bovine somatotropin/bovine
growth hormone) in its chemical structure and
function; although it is synthetic, it is identical.
BST, whether natural or recombinant, is a short
peptide chain.  It has NO activity in humans - even
if you inject someone with BST, it will do nothing -
human somatotropin has a different structure;  the
miniscule amounts of naturally-occurring BST or rBST
which might be present in milk are merely digested -
as any other short chain of amino acids might be.

rBST usage is not widespread.  Only about 15% of
conventional dairies utilize rBST, and only on 20-25%
of the cattle in those herds.  It is a production
tool, nothing more.  Producers have to choose
carefully which cows to use it on, and they have to
feed those animals accordingly.  They don't just
inject every animal in the herd, and expect to get
10-15% more milk without increasing those animals'
level of nutrition.  It's not a 'magic bullet'.
Much of the anti-rBST hysteria can be laid directly
at the feet of the rabid anti-GMO, anti-Monsanto
crowd.  I'll be the first to admit that I have some
concerns about some of the GMO technology, but rBST
does not concern me, and I'm not going to oppose its
use merely because it's a Monsanto product.

Mr. Moore, your comment that you "'know' that with
insecticides, a small amount is more dangerous than a
large amount", indicates that you really don't 'know'
much about this subject.  It's just not true.  
I'd have no qualms about consuming
conventionally-produced fruit which had been sprayed
with an approved insecticide, and harvested after the
appropriate withdrawal time - and if I consumed a few
molecules of, let's say, malathion, the effects would
absolutely be imperceptible, as compared to what
might happen to me if I drank a bottle of the
concentrated chemical - or even if I took a big ol'
drink out of the spray tank.

I'm a firm supporter of 'alternative therapies',
etc., but I need to see conclusive, scientific
evidence, not skewed anecdotal crap from the Weston
A. Price Foundation, the NOT MILK folks, and their ilk.

Louis L."Lucky" Pittman, Jr., DVM
Veterinary Pathologist/Dept. Head
Murray State University
Breathitt Veterinary Center
Hopkinsville, KY

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