Target: Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Require meat and dairy manufacturers to list on product labels all growth hormones given to animals.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists that growth hormones, which are fed to cows, chickens, and pigs, have no adverse effects on humans. However, no long-term studies have been conducted to determine the lifetime consequences of eating meat and dairy products that contain trace amounts of growth hormones. Some researchers hypothesize that American children are reaching adolescence at an earlier age because of all the growth hormones contained in food. Young girls, in particular, are beginning to menstruate at an earlier age.
Growth hormones, such as testosterone, are injected into animals to speed up the time it takes for that animal to reach maturity, and thus, the dinner table. The growth hormone, bovine somatotropin, is given to dairy cows to increase milk production. These hormones rapidly increase the process of raising animals for either slaughter or milking. However, they also have a devastating effect on the quality of life for animals. Cows, which are repeatedly injected with growth hormones, develop infections, endure pain from growing so rapidly, and are subject to dozens of other side effects listed on the labels of the hormones. This makes one wonder: if animals suffer so much from receiving these hormone injections, what are the hormones in the meat and dairy products we eat every day doing to us?
The FDA does not require meat or dairy producers to list which hormones or antibiotics were given to animals. Instead, they operate on ‘absence labeling,’ which means that organic meat and dairy producers have labeling that identifies their products as hormone and antibiotic-free. So, for the average consumer who either cannot afford organic products or who trusts that food approved by the FDA is safe for human consumption, there is no way to know what growth hormones are in his or her food.
Including the growth hormones and antibiotics that were given to animals on product packaging would help to inform consumers, promote organic purchases, and deter producers from using so many growth hormones. Demand that the FDA require meat and dairy producers to include which growth hormones were given to animals on dairy and meat product labels.
Dear the Food and Drug Administration,
Although your research has not shown a causal link between the human consumption of growth hormones contained in dairy and meat products and adverse health effects, many argue that inadequate long-term studies have been conducted. Some researchers speculate that the consumption of residual growth hormones in meat and dairy might be speeding up puberty in American children. Girls, especially, are beginning to menstruate at earlier ages. Without a long-term study that examines the effects of consuming growth hormones over years, no one can know with certainty that these hormones are benign. Regardless, consumers have a right to know which growth hormones are in their food.
The current FDA policy on growth hormones is based on ‘absence labeling,’ which means that all meat and dairy products contain growth hormones, unless otherwise specified. The problem with this approach is that average consumers have no way of knowing how much of which growth hormones are contained in the food they are eating every day. Until further research can determine with finality the long-term effects of consuming trace amounts of testosterone, zeranol, and bovine somatotropin (among numerous others) daily, these hormones should be listed with approximate quantities per serving on product labels.
American consumers trust the FDA to determine which products are safe for human consumption and to ensure that product labels contain all pertinent information about potential health hazards. Since growth hormones pose a potential risk, they should be included on product packaging. Please mandate that all meat and dairy producers include growth hormones given to animals on product labels.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Taste test via chow.com