The USDA’s National Organic Program regulates the standards,
and accredited agents carry out inspections and review documentation to ensure
organic farms are meeting the mark, says Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, a
spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Those are excellent reasons to buy organic milk. But many organic-milk customers make the purchase because they think it’s
healthier than the conventional stuff. That’s where the science says not so fast.
First, some background: In the mid-’90s the FDA approved the
use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in cattle. This practice
resulted in greater milk production at less cost to the dairy farmer, a savings
that has been passed on to you at your local supermarket. But it has also sparked
much controversy, because rBGH boosts milk's concentration of insulin-like
growth factor (IGF), a hormone that's been linked to cancer.
Nor is rBGH good for the cows. They suffer from a variety of
problems because of it, including a persistent and painful udder infection.
That’s why cows are given so many antibiotics.
But is rBGH dangerous to humans? Probably not. “Unlike
steroid hormones, which can be taken orally, rBGH and IGF must be injected to
have any effect,” says Men’s Health
nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S. “That's because the process of digestion
destroys these ‘protein’ hormones. So drinking milk from hormone-treated cows
doesn't transfer the active form of these chemicals to your body.” Just don’t inject it.
What’s more, all organic and conventional milk is tested for
antibiotic residue, and any milk that contains it is removed from the food
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