Milk: Weapon of Mass Destruction? 
by Page Getz

American milk is banned in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all 25 countries represented in the European Union, but not in the U.S., where despite outcry from some in the medical and scientific communities linking it to cancer, it is everywhere, including in public schools.

It is outlawed in other nations because unless milk is labeled “certified organic” or “no rBGH,” it contains the genetically-engineered recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST). 

The chemical, a suspected carcinogen, is produced by MONSANTO, a $5 billion dollar empire and the world’s most powerful agricultural biotechnology company.

Introduced in 1994, Monsanto called it Posilac, an artificial hormone injected into cows to increase milk production and it was released to a market that faces intermittent market surpluses that require government subsidies.

If a company deliberately deceives the public into buying toxic chemicals in the interest of profit, it has broken the law and it should be prosecuted, its products taken off the shelves, and the regulators responsible for signing off on it must be held accountable.

If a person deliberately fed a child a carcinogen and attempted to hide the toxic content in order to sell it, they would serve years in prison. Why would we let a corporation get away with deception that would be criminal if a person committed it?


The cancer correlation has been documented by scores of scientific journals including the International Journal of Health Services, British Journal of Cancer, Association of Cancer Research, Journal of Dairy Science, Journal of Endocrinology, Nature, Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Science.

One 1998 study published in Lancet, a British medical journal, found the risk of breast cancer among pre-menopausal U.S. women under 51 increased sevenfold with high levels of IGF-I in their blood. (Hankinson, et al. 1998)

Another study the same year published in Science reported that men with the highest levels of IGF-I in their blood have four times the risk of prostate cancer. (Chan, et al. 1998)

Though they do not address the cause, the American Medical Association has acknowledged that “dairy products may promote both male (prostate) and female (ovarian) cancer” and “these cancers may be linked to [milk] consumption during adolescence.” (Berkey, et al 543)

Publicly, Monsanto admits there are potential side effects to the artificial hormone including digestive problems, uterus disorders, increased body temperature, lameness and birth complications. (Bartlett and Steele 2008)

Privately Monsanto’s own confidential reports detailed much more dangerous and specific concerns. The reports, based on veterinary trials conducted during the 1980’s, were submitted to the FDA and in 1989 were leaked to a doctor who turned them over to Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations.

In 1990, Congressman Conyers issued a statement calling both the FDA and Monsanto reprehensible for choosing to “suppress and manipulate animal health test data.”

The FDA study was sealed to prevent what they called “irreparable harm” to Monsanto.

Dr. Margaret Haydon, researcher for the Canadian Health Ministry, said her bureau was offered a $1 million bribe by Monsanto in 1994 to approve the hormone.

Monsanto has since said the offer was essentially charity to support the agency’s modest resources, but the bureau wasn’t convinced and Canadian scientists went on to expose a cover-up that the original Monsanto study had actually found that rBGH caused prostate problems, thyroid cysts and other health concerns in lab rats. (Palast 260)

Proponents of genetic engineering have countered organic farmers saying there is no proof of long-term health risks and if American milk caused cancer, cancer rates would be accelerated in the U.S.

It is true there has been no study conducted to correlate cancer rates with rBGH in milk, but according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) cancer rates are accelerating and are highest among the three cancers linked to the artificial hormone.

The incidence of breast cancer has increased 30 percent in the last 25 years. (Garcia, et al 10) The same ACS study found that among the 10 most common cancers in developed nations, breast cancer is the most common and colon cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in women.

Among men in developed nations, prostate cancer is first and colon cancer is third. (Garcia, et al 3) The U.S. leads the world in cancer rates and although the ACS attributes the high number partially to early detection, they acknowledge that the primary reasons for the radical disparity in cancer rates, “are not completely understood.” (Garcia, et al 16)

Why isn’t such a scandal all over the news? 

In 1997 reporter Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson were working for a Fox affiliate in Tampa, Florida where they were hired to produce investigative reports.

They decided to cover the health risks of rBGH in a four-part series. The report was promoted heavily until a threatening eleventh hour phone call from Monsa
nto to Fox the night before the segment was scheduled to air.

Fox caved, putting Akre and Wilson through 83 rewrites before firing them. (Democracy Now 2003) So the story never aired. This type of complicity has played out in both a media blackout and government neglect that has kept potentially carcinogenic milk in grocery stores.


Why is the FDA protecting a product condemned in nearly every industrialized nation but the U.S.?

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, the “scientific report” the company was required to submit on rBGH to the FDA in 1989 was put together, in part, by Monsanto researcher Margaret Miller, but just before it was presented, Miller resigned and went to work for the FDA, where her first assignment was to review the very report she had written for Monsanto.

In 1994, several FDA agents wrote a formal complaint to the General Accounting Office about the conflict of interest involving Miller and two other former Monsanto workers at the FDA, but the investigation was never completed because the company refused to turn over their data.  (Smith 2009)

Since Monsanto got this product on shelves, its ongoing influence in the FDA has resulted in a milk labeling war that is still being fought in the courts and state legislatures.

Like many organic dairies, in 2005 Kleinpeter Dairy began labeling its milk as “from rBGH-free cows.” Following the new label their profits increased significantly. (Barlett and Steele 2008)

Monsanto appealed unsuccessfully to the Federal Trade Commission in 2007, calling the labels misleading and deceptive, accusing organic dairies like Kleinpeter of hurting business by  “falsely claiming that there are health and safety risks associated with milk from rBST-supplemented cows.”

But that’s not what any of the labels said on any of the organic labels. They only said the milk was hormone-free.

The issue is also being fought in the courts.

Monsanto filed a lawsuit in 2003 against Oakhurst, a dairy in Maine, because its label said, "Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones." Monsanto claimed again that the label implies that there is something wrong with milk produced using growth hormone and that the slogan is bad for business.  (Wickenheiser 2003)

Dairies are now required to include in their label: "FDA states: No significant difference in milk from cows treated with artificial growth hormones."

The FDA might have protested if it weren’t for another friend of Monsanto on both payrolls at different times, with suspicious timing.

Although there hasn’t been an investigation to determine any correlation, given the coincidence that rBGH is believed by so many in the scientific community to cause these cancers and that the incidence of these specific cancers has happened to increase significantly in the two decades since rBGH hit the market, it is a relationship that an agency like the FDA that was established to protect the health of consumers, should at least investigate. 

In their own words, the FDA is “responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of…our nation’s food supply.”

Breast Cancer Cells

But even those reports failed to address the long-term effects of ingesting the hormone.

To date, the FDA has never considered a single long-term study on the impact of exposure to the artificial hormone.

Their approval was based only on a study conducted over only 90 days of exposure in small laboratory animals and all their information came, according to the Consumer’s Union, from Monsanto alone. Monsanto studies have a history of being wrong.

In 1990 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused Monsanto of fraud for releasing a 1979 study, which falsely claimed exposure to the dioxin doesn't increase cancer risks. (EPA 1990)

Following the FTC’s rejection, Monsanto turned up the pressure on states.

In April 2009, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed HB 2121, a measure that would have manipulated labeling requirements on milk obscuring the presence of rBGH.

Though the veto was followed by the governor’s appointment by Obama as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services and the labeling policy would have a striking impact on the state’s many dairies, not one of the major newspapers in Kansas printed a word of her decision. (WIBW 2009)

In the last two years, Pennsylvania and Kansas governors both overturned labeling decisions by the legislature or administration that would have prevented consumers from knowing that milk contained the hormone. (Scolforo 2007)  Ohio wasn’t as lucky.

Monsanto’s influence in state politics won them over to the new labeling law. Related legislation has also been in the works in New Jersey, Indiana, Utah, and Missouri. (Barlett and Steele 2008)

Monsanto plays every possible hand on Capital Hill, positioning themselves as lobbyist, regulator and campaign financier.

According to the Senate Office of Public Records, Monsanto reported spending $2,094,000 on lobbyists in the first quarter of 2009 alone.

In 2008, they reported nearly $9 million for lobbyists.

The Center for Responsive Politics monitors the revolving door between Washington regulating agencies like the FDA and the lobbyists seeking to deregulate them.

Granted, Washington insiders often jump from playing lobbyist to regulator, ostensibly recruited because they are authorities in their respective fields, but these conflicts of interest are so extreme they are exactly why conflict of interest laws exist.

Given a possible cancer link, such a compromise of the public health could be pursued as a violation of the federal criminal code chapter 11, title 18, which requires up to a one-year sentence. (Cornell 11) The acid test is whether they have acted in the interest of consumers and clearly these relationships have protected Monsanto rather than the public health.

The FDA labeling policy was established by Michael R. Taylor, a former partner of a law firm that represented Monsanto.

According to Vanity Fair, Taylor started at the FDA, left for nearly a decade, where he worked to win approval of Monsanto’s rBGH. Taylor returned to the FDA in 1991, where a position was created for him and he was given the responsibility of signing the federal register notice warning grocery stores not to label milk as free of rBGH and was in charge of regulations on genetically modified foods.

After completely manipulating U.S. policy on the hormone and other genetic engineering products, including removing references to “unintended negative effects,” he resigned and went back to work for Monsanto, this time as vice president of public policy, a well earned promotion. (Palast 260) (Ecologist 1998)

In questioning the safety of rBGH, the issue must be considered in the context of Monsanto’s track record with carcinogens.

Other Monsanto chemicals that caused cancer include Agent Orange, Benzene, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls), the pesticide alachlor, cadmium, saccharine, Cycle-safe plastic and Vinyl chloride (VC or VCM)

(Washington Post 2002)

Movies have been produced about Monsanto and books have been written detailing both the risk of rBGH and the illicit deception behind it.

Given the degree of its corruption, the scope of its products and the magnitude of its influence, Monsanto has done too much damage to let it remain under the radar.

There is a paper trail as long as the cancer trail behind Monsanto, so there is no reason why this company should still be in business or its products still on shelves. ✿


Newly Revealed Fraud by Monsanto in an Epidemiological Study Used by EPA to Assess Human health Effects from Dioxins, Cate Jenkins, EPA memorandum to Raymond Loehr, Chairman, Executive Committee, EPA Science Advisory Board, February 23, 1990.

FDA Promotes Unsafe Milk Due to Industry Pressure, The Huffington Post, Jeffrey Smith, April 16, 2009.

Going Backwards: Clinton Administration Appoints A Former Monsanto Corp. Lobbyist To Represent US Consumers On Genetically Engineered Food Issues, Tom Abate, San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2000

Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery, BBC, January 7, 2005.

(Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution; PCBs Drenched Alabama Town, But No One Was Ever Told, Michael Grunwald, Washington Post, January 1, 2002; Page A01)

Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear, Vanity Fair, Donald L Barlett and James B. Steele, May 2008.

Monsanto Sues Milk Producer For Advertising It Sells Hormone-Free Milk, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, July 25th, 2003.

Oakhurst Sued by Monsanto Over Milk Advertising, Matt Wickenheiser, Portland Press Herald, Tuesday, July 8, 2003.

Pennsylvania bars milk that's labeled "hormone-free,” Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, November 14, 2007.

Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators, Jennifer Ferrara, The Ecologist, Volume 28, Number 5, September/ October 1998.

Sebelius Vetoes Milk Labeling Measure, WIBW News, Apr 23, 2009.

Berkey CS, Rockett HRH, Willet WC, Colditz GA, Milk, Dairy Fat, Dietary Calcium, and Weight Gain:A Longitudinal Study of Adolescents, ARCH Pediatric Adolescence Medical Vol. 159, American Medical Association, June 2005, p. 547.

Epstein, S. S. Unlabeled milk from cows treated with biosynthetic growth hormones: A case of regulatory abdication. International Journal of Health Services, 26(1):173-185, 1996.

Garcia M, Jemal A, Ward EM, Center MM, Hao Y, Siegel RL, Thun MJ. Global Cancer Facts & Figures 2007. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2007. Pp. 1-3, 10, 12, 16.

Green Party, The Monsanto Saga, Second International Days of Action Against Genetic Engineering, 1998.

Chan JM, et al. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Science 279:563-566, 1998.

Hankinson SE, et al. Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 and risk of breast cancer. The Lancet 351:1393-1396, 1998.

Palast, G. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Pp. 258-260, 2003.

Cornell Law School, Bribery, Graft and Conflicts of Interest, part 1, chapter 11, Title 18.

Center for Food Safety

Center for Responsive Politics

Department of Veterans Affairs. 2009.

Sourcewatch: Labeling Issues, Revolving Doors, rBGH, Bribery and Monsanto.

Organic Consumers Association, OCA June 26, 2006

Many of these conflicts of interest have bounced from Monsanto and back including Linda J. Fisher, EPA administrator who became a Monsanto Vice President from 1995 to 2000 and returned to the EPA in 2001.

Bush Senior’s Supreme Court appointee,
Clarence Thomas — who was instrumental in the decision that made George W. Bush the president — was a corporate attorney for Monsanto prior to his appointment.

As a justice, Thomas’ loyalty to his former employer paid off in his 2001 vote on genetically-modified seed patent-rights that favored Monsanto. (Barlett and Steele 2008)

In addition to cancer, Monsanto has also been responsible for causing leukemia, cancer, kidney disease, sterility, diabetes, neurological dysfunction, liver damage, pelvic inflammatory disease, Hodgkin's disease, Spina Bifida, Soft-tissue sarcoma, Chloracne, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, brain seizures and birth defects.

(VA 2009) (Time 1980) (OCA 2009)

The company has also been caught concealing internal documents that it deliberately dumped carcinogens in drainage ditches, poisoning entire cities and it exposed workers to carcinogens for decades long after they identified the risk. (Washington Post 2002)

Since the first Bush administration,
Monsanto employees or
board members have held significant posts as officials in the
Department of Agriculture,
Defense Department,
Supreme Court, several in the FDA, three in the EPA
and two CIA officers including
Stansfield Turner, former CIA Director.
(Sourcewatch 2009) (The Ecologist 1998)


From the People Who Brought You

Agent Orange, PCBs, Dioxin, Benzene,
Weed Killer
and Saccharine