November/December 2000 Featured Stories
Whistleblowers on BGH Win Suit
Two award-winning investigative reporters, Jane Akre and Steve
Wilson recently won their lawsuit against the Fox-owned WTVT in
Tampa. The television station dismissed them after being strongly
pressured by BGH-maker Monsanto to suppress a story about the widespread
use of a controversial bovine growth hormone Florida dairymen have
been secretly injecting into their cows.
Fox lawyers have been appealing the verdict on the grounds, among
others, that technically there is no law, rule, or regulation
against deliberate news distortion by a television station licensed
to use the public airwaves.
Though legal since approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
in 1993, the artificial hormone commonly known as BGH has been linked
to cancer and is banned throughout Europe, Canada and New Zealand
and is unapproved in several other countries because of human health
The never-broadcast report also reveals how Florida supermarkets
quietly reneged on promises not to sell milk from treated cows until
the hormone gained widespread acceptance by consumers. All major
supermarkets now admit BGH has found its way into virtually all
the states milk supply.
Many scientists have expressed strong concerns about a possible
link between cancer and the consumption of milk from cows injected
with the synthetic hormone. Nonetheless, Monsanto which developed
and sells the product has always insisted use of the hormone poses
no human health risk of any kind. The FDA, whose veterinary medicine
branch approved the animal drug in 1993, agrees.
Scientists who oppose the use of BGH argue that it both leads to
changes in the cows milk and is said to shorten the life of
the cow by speeding up its metabolism and causing certain infections,.
Dr. Samuel Epstein at the University of Illinois says, "There
are highly suggestive if not persuasive lines of evidence showing
that human consumption of milk from treated cows poses unnecessary
risks of breast and colon cancer."
Epstein, an acknowledged expert on the environmental causes of
cancer, has three medical degrees, is the author of nine books,
and is frequently called to testify as an expert before Congress.
Other respected experts share his position. Some like Dr. William
von Meyer have stated further concerns about whether BGH milk may
cause other long-term health problems in humans. All the critics
and even some BGH supporters agree the possibility has never been
Full coverage of the suit and detailed information about the
use of Bovine GrowthHhormone in dairy cattle are to be found at