Organic regulations prohibit the use of synthetic growth and breeding hormones in livestock. So, when you buy organic, you support the elimination of synthetic hormones from our food system.
Nonorganic livestock farmers use synthetic hormones to enhance breeding, to boost the weight of beef cattle and increase milk production in dairy cattle. The most well-known of the synthetic livestock hormones is recombinant bovine somatropin (rBST or rBGH), which some nonorganic dairy farmers inject into cows to increase milk production by 10–25%.
Prohibited in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the 27 countries of the European Union, rBST increases the risk of mastitis and other udder infections by 25% and the risk of lameness by 50%. rBST packaging lists many possible drug side effects, including swollen and ulcerated udders, skin rashes and hoof disorders.
We’ve always opposed rBST
We don’t think treating cows with rBST is humane. But it’s also not a healthy way to treat people, as increased cow infections could lead to increased antibiotic use, which could result in new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that infect people.
We think the widespread use of rBST also economically devastates family farms. An increase in milk supply generally leads to a drop in the price paid to farmers. Price drops have put many farms out of business.
Instead of using rBST, organic dairy farmers increase milk production safely and humanely through sound animal husbandry—good animal hygiene, optimizing cows’ living conditions and nutrition and not over-stressing cows.
With CROPP, we go a step beyond
When it comes to synthetic hormones, the farmer-owned dairy cooperative that supplies us with organic milk for our yogurt and other products—Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative—goes a step beyond the already strict USDA organic standards.
National organic regulations do allow a hormone stimulating synthetic called “oxytocin” to aid in calving and for therapeutic uses. CROPP, however, does not allow its farmers to use oxytocin.
“Since hormones are a great concern to us and to our citizen partners,” says CROPP, “we elected to not allow this ‘hormone mimicker’ in organic milk. We can truthfully tell our consumers our products are produced without synthetic hormones.’”