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Controversies on hormone injections for cattle

  • Published at 01:51 pm September 26th, 2014
Controversies on hormone injections for cattle

In our country, farmers fatten up the cattle by using hormones. Injecting hormones into young cattle can make them gain weight faster. More weight means more meat, which means more profit for the producer. The hormones are injected directly to the muscle or through implantation under the skin of the ear, and delivered in measured amounts throughout the animal’s life. Synthetic estrogen and testosterone are the most common. Initial concerns about estrogen injected cows center on a compound called diethylstilbesterol (DES). However, It was discovered that DES has relation to vaginal cancer. By the 1970s, over the protest of ranchers, DES was phased out from use in medicine and agriculture. It is also been known that breast cancer-risk increases with higher lifetime exposure to estrogen. These facts have led many to question whether the continued use of synthetic estrogen in cattle is safe.

Bovine somatotropin (bST) or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a synthetic (man-made) hormone that is marketed to dairy farmers to increase milk production and growth in cows. It has been used in United States since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, but it’s use is not permitted in European Union, Canada, and some other countries. The hormone is administered through injection and stimulates (IGF-1) which the cow uses to convert nutrients into milk. Simply put, cows given bST produce more milk than non injected cows.

Consumer sentiment against the use of growth hormones in food animals has been gaining more attention in recent years. Parents fear that residual hormones in dairy and beef products are causing early puberty in children, specially girls.

Now the residual levels of hormones in meat and milk is the source of controversy. The researchers from producers side said, any residual hormones do not harm consumers. The residual hormones are found in meat and milk are at too low of levels to cause any response in the human body, or in the case of bST they are dead hormone cells that simply pass through the digestive system. But still, the arguments against growth hormones  to are going on. Some studies said, it is unhealthy for cattle. And the cattle have to use some antibiotics to combat the side effects of the hormone. These antibiotics can build up a resistant strain of bacteria in the human body. Steroids and other growth hormones can cause early maturity in children and make them obese. Steroids are known immunosupressor - that means, it reduces natural defence of the body.  Several studies showed, the residual hormones are linked to an increased risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer in human.

Before choosing an animal for sacrificing on Eid-al-Azha, you also have to pay attention to the health of that animal. To have an anthrax free cow, it is better to consult to a veterinary doctor. 

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