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Got Milk!!

Siddhi , in one of her infrequent mails to us, raised this doubt “Is it true …..One of the variety of milk in US have injected hormones in them …and bcoz of these hormones, u tend to put on a lot of weight with this milk …I have this colleague in office who has put on good weight when she had coffee made out of this milk . “

My knee jerk response to this enquiry was to obviously deny any such thing. I had never ever heard of it before. After all my grocery store did not display any such information on the milk carton. And I somehow had this naïve trust in the American system in believing whatever is written on the packet of what I buy. And after all almost every item here has some kind of caution displayed prominently on the cover. After all isn’t this the country where a cup of coffee is labeled with “Contents HOT”. But before replying to Siddhi , I decided to do the obvious google search. The results were undoubtedly surprising as well as illuminating. Siddhi was right, although partially. The Hormone called the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is not actually injected in the milk but it is administered to the cows to increase milk productivity. It increases the milk yield of the cow by at least 10% and also increases the lactation time of the cow.This genetically modified hormone is banned in Europe and Canada but US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has sanctioned its use since 1995. I am probably a little late to realize this , and many of you may be aware of this, but it never the less shocked me. The FDA and the manufacturers insist that rBGH is fundamentally similar to the cow’s natural growth hormone. However several environmental organizations and individuals strongly disagree . Rachel’s Environment & Health News states that the rBGH contain an extra amino acid sequence differing from the natural hormone in cows . These organizations state that apart from the risk presented due to a genetically modified additive , there are other contaminating factors as well. Cows injected with rBGH have a prolonged lactation period and so are at a higher risk to develop mastitis. Mastitis causes infected udders and pus formation. To combat this infection, the cows are treated with antibiotics. There is a likelihood of the presence of either the pus or the antibiotics in the milk. Several organizations also allege that this milk has higher fat content as compared to protein content and also that these hormones might cause an increased risk for breast or colon cancer., because a tumor promoting chemical called IGF-I, which has been implicated in cancers of the colon, smooth muscle, and breast. is present in the milk.

The FDA denies that the bovine growth hormone, also known as bovine somatotropin, or bST is active in humans. FDA stated that after a long test period and based on extensive scientific investigation, that milk and meat from bST-supplemented experimental dairy cows may be used for human consumption, without causing a risk to the public health. Bovine somatotropin is a protein hormone, and this means that when a product Containing bST is eaten, it breaks down during digestion in the gastrointestinal tract into inactive fragments without any effect on the person (or cow) who ate it. That is why cows must be injected with bST for it to be effective. Experiments with rat models have showed that the mice have had no effects after being treated to a oral dose of this hormone. The FDA also says that the overall content of the milk remains unchanged, Subtle changes, primarily in the milk fat, do occur in the first few weeks of bST supplementation due to metabolic adjustments in the cow.

Which brings me to the next question. Why isn’t such milk labeled clearly ?. Here apparently the law turns a deaf year to the overwhelming public opinion that such milk must be labeled so as to enable them to make an informed choice . But this is not done as the FDA considers both kinds of milk practically similar and also there is no records or any kind of checking as to which milk is rbgh free or not and in the absence of proper checking, any milk supplier could make a false claim. FDA has even threatened legal action against milk suppliers and grocers who label their milk as free of the rBGH drug. FDA says there is “no significant difference” between milk from rBGH-treated cows and milk from cows not treated, and thus a label saying “rBGH-free” would imply a difference that did not exist, and this would constitute false labeling.

What do I think? Although the idea that my daily glass of milk is laced with different hormones is gross, I agree with the FDA when they say that the milk that I thought was natural is hardly in its pure form. After being enriched for Vitamin D, de enriched for fat free or skim milk, mixed with extra calcium , it is hardly coming straight from the cow. Also I have some experience in trying to get FDA approval for imaging detectors and imaging procedures. I have realized that the FDA and other such organizations are pretty strict when it comes to any kind of human interaction. But then again, although the hormone itself might be harmless it presents complication in terms of antibiotics, in milk, infection and other additives. That’s where I am concerned.

Incase you are looking for a suitable alternative here is a list if  hormone free milk and milk products and sellers. And now I have someone to blame for all the weight I put on in the last three years !!!


Open House : Elizabeth Berg The story of how a 40 something woman deals with the after math of divorce and her over helping mother and 10 year old son with the help of the new boarders that she takes in to maintain her financial independence. Readable but definitely not one of the authors better works.

Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistle Stop House by Fannie Flagg. L Wonderful book filled with great characters that stay with you even after you put down the book. As the blurb says it is the story of the people living in a small town called Whistle stop as narrated by an 80-year-old resident Ninny Threadgoode to the 40 something Evelyn Couch who is suffering from a midlife crisis. The principal characters of the story are two woman who run the Whistle Stop café….tomboyish Idgie and the extremely ladylike Ruth Jamison. Fannie Flagg shows the tendency of linking characters from one book to another. For instance Ruth Jamison’s granddaughter is Norma Warren, one of the principle characters of Standing in the Rainbow. Again the same characters like Norma and Macky Warren make a comeback in another of her novels Welcome to the World Baby Girl!. But then again Fried Green Tomatoes is possible her most delightful work till date.

The Twentieth Wife: Based on the story of Nur Jehan, the Empress of India in the seventeenth century and twentieth and the most powerful wife of Emperor Jahangir. . There has been a lack of historical fiction based on prominent characters of Indian history . Indu Sunderashan tries to rectify that omission and succeeds partially in recreating the splendor of the Mughal era. Jahangir, (or Salim as he was known prior to his coronation) is a popular figure in Indian history. But ironically the reason that he got his fame: his ill-fated romance with one of the servant girl (Anarkali) , made immortal by the movie Mughal azam , has just been given a passing mention. Unfortunately , the character of Nur jehan does not excite much being too passive and fails to impart the tenaciousness or the shrewd nature that she is known to possess.


Ferris Beuller’s day off : Story of an oversmart kid who decided to bunk a day from school with his best friend and girl friend. He pretends to be sick which his parents and school mates believe. Only two people do not believe it. His sister and his principal and both are on the lookout for a chance to expose his lie. But with the help of ingenious ( and far fetched ) tricks. Ferris Beuller manages to have is day off, thwarting the attempts of his principal and finally making his peace with his older sister. Mathew Broderick is cute as Ferris Beullar but I should have seen the movie 10 yars ago to enjoy it more….!!

Gangs of New York : Lavish sets and period costumes , great performances from Leonardo di caprio and Daniel Day-Lewis , this story about the gangs in New York in 1900’s tells the story of two main gangs the Irish and the Natives. Caprio as the young Irish lad out to take his revenge against the Butcher Bill ( the native who killed his father ) delivers an excellent performances. The only disappointment was the climax. It was rather tame compares to the rest of the movie. The director (Martin Scorsese)does try to redeem it with a footnote that later nobody will remember that such gangs fouight and NY was once under their sway but it is a weak end to an otherwise fine story.

Posted in Personal.

Copyright Deepa