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Arrogant Americans or Conservative Canadians - A look at the rBST controversy

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Arrogant Americans or Conservative Canadians A look at the rBST controversy By Thomas Ammerlaan Prepared for Mr. Reynolds English for FMT FMTP-084-001- October 2004 McGill University, Macdonald Campus Biotechnology, as everyone knows, is becoming every day more widely used in as many fields as one can imagine. Agriculture, of course, is of no exception. Although many have been declared safe, the use of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST) in cattle, in order to stimulate milk production, is still uncertain, even after proofing. RBST actually is a laboratory clone of a natural protein produced by the pituitary gland: Bovine Somatotropin (BST), also called bovine growth hormone (BGH). But why use rBST? Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin allows cows to produce up to 15 % more milk with an implementation cost of less than 5 %. Excellent, right? Then what is causing so much tumult? ...read more.


As suspected, they came to a conclusion that the former experimentations were bad science. "The data had been misinterpreted, certain pieces of data had been overlooked, or over-generalizations had been made about the safety of rBST based on only 2 studies."1 But, what rBST actually does is that, like other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is an active agent in regulating metabolic processes of the cow. Acting as a growth hormone during the early stages of a cow's life, BST mobilizes body fat to use for energy and diverts feed energy more toward milk production of a lactating cow. Knowing its virtues, scientists have been able, through the use of recombinant DNA gene splicing, to produce BST from bacterial cells found in the stomach. ...read more.


As for the milk itself, it has always contained natural BST proteins and studies haven't proven that any difference can be noticed between the natural and lab conceived ones. Even with traces of BST and RBST, they do not have any significant influence on humans because 80% of it would be broken down into amino acids and peptides throughout the digestive system. In addition tests have shown that human somatotropin and BST aren't even compatible, so no harm should come from it's presence in the human body at least, that is what the American scientist claimed. Canada is still carrying out research. Although rBST is widely used around the world in high milk producing countries, Canada is still reluctant to put the drug on the market. Only the future will tell if and when the government will approve of it in order to have it hit the Canadian market. 1 http://www.tv.cbc.canewsinreviewmar99milkintro.htm 2 ...read more.

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