Contact: Carly Jansen, Goodman Media, 212-576-2700


Washington, DC, February 24, 2010 – Food safety, consumer and health advocacy organizations blasted Eli Lilly subsidiary Elanco for claiming that prominent health organizations had endorsed use of the controversial artificial growth hormone rbGH,(rbST) on dairy cows when, in fact, they have not. Elanco’s report, from eight experts and academics in medicine and dairy science, said that groups such as the American Cancer Society, American Association of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association affirmed the safety of rbGH. In fact, none of these three groups have endorsed it.

An article in the Feb. 22 issue of the online Bioscience Resource Project cited one of the co-authors as admitting several of the endorsements were “technically untrue” and that “we counted endorsement as a failure to oppose rbGH.”

“The notion that failure to oppose something constitutes an endorsement makes no scientific sense,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union. “By this logic, the American Automobile Association and the Federal Reserve Board have endorsed the safety of rbGH.”

Bioscience Resource Project received written confirmation from the American Cancer Society that it had “no formal position regarding rBGH.” A spokesperson from the American Association of Pediatrics wrote, “I can confirm that AAP does not endorse the safety of rBGH.” The American Medical Association also has no formal position on rBGH and its past president recommended to AMA members in 2008 that hospitals serve only rBGH-free milk.

“Elanco’s numerous false statements and misrepresentations on endorsing organizations are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Rick North of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, which has facilitated a nationwide campaign opposing the hormone for over five years. “The entire report is riddled with similar inaccurate, misleading claims about rbGH itself.” A formal response to Elanco’s report endorsed by 19 health, agriculture, consumer protection and animal protection agencies documents the numerous incorrect and misleading statements of the report and is available at http://www.psr.org/chapters/oregon/safe-food/rebuttal-to-elanco-rbst.pdf.

“Although the FDA approved rbGH as safe in 1993, the hormone has been dogged by controversy, said Dr. Hansen. “It increases disease rates in cows, including mastitis, which is treated by antibiotics. Use of.rbGH also increases levels in milk of another hormone (IGF-1) that has been linked to breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, although whether the increased levels of IGF-1 in milk due to rbGH use would affect health has not been established.”

Although approximately three fourths of the milk and yogurt produced in the U.S. is rbGH-free, most ice cream is not. A coalition of health and consumer groups coordinated by Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility launched a nationwide campaign last fall aimed at persuading the two largest ice cream producers, Breyers (including Good Humor, Klondike Bars and Popsicle) and Dreyer’s (including Haagen Dazs and Edy’s) to go rBGH-free.

So far, 57 of the nation’s 100 largest dairies have completely or partially discontinued the use of rBGH, including Dean Foods, Kroger, Foremost Farms, Darigold and Prairie Farms Dairy. Starbucks company-owned stores and Chipotle Restaurants have gone completely rBGH-free and Walmart has eliminated its use from its store brand milk.

Last year, the two largest yogurt producers in the country, Dannon and Yoplait-Colombo, both discontinued the hormone in response to consumer demand. A 2008 Consumer Reports survey found that 70% of respondents were concerned about cows given artificial growth hormones and 57% would pay more for dairy products produced without it.

Heather Whitehead, director of the True Food Network, said, “The entire country is moving toward more healthy and sustainably-produced foods, and rBGH-free dairy products are helping to lead the way. It is amazing that Elanco would try to hoodwink consumers with a report and endorsements that are clearly misleading.”

The Center for Food Safety is national, non-profit, membership organization, founded in 1997, that works to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. On the web at: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/


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Earlier today, the Bioscience Resource Project released its online article... http://www.bioscienceresource.org/news/article.php?id=45

Elanco's campaign to promote rbGH takes a wrong turn.


22nd February 2010

The fight over rbGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) continues, even under new ownership. After acquiring rbGH from Monsanto, Elanco (part of Eli Lilly) has stepped up efforts to convince milk processors and the wider food industry that milk from rbGH-injected cows is safe. Central to their new campaign is a paper, commissioned through PR company Porter-Novelli, from eight prominent experts and academics in medicine and dairy science (Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST): a safety assessment). The authors are Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA, Connie Bales of Duke University Medical Centre, Dale Bauman of Cornell University, David Clemmons of the University of North Carolina, Ronald Kleinman of Harvard Medical school, Dante Lanna of the University of Sao Paolo, Stephen Nickerson of the University of Georgia, and Kristen Sejrsen of Aarhus University, Denmark. The new paper was not peer-reviewed but it was presented at the July 2009 joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, the Canadian Society of Animal Science and the American Society of Animal Science in Montreal, Canada. It argues strongly for the benefits and safety of rbGH milk and has been widely distributed by Elanco. According to a rebuttal circulated by a number of consumer advocacy organisations, however, the paper misrepresents the position of various medical bodies (1).

The paper claims, for instance, that the safety of rbGH is endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA). Through their Campaign for Safe Food, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, has pointed out that the AMA has no policy on rbGH and offers no such endorsement. Instead, they note the April 2008 AMA newsletter cites past president Ron Davis saying “Hospitals should......use milk produced without recombinant bovine growth hormone”.

The new paper also claims the same endorsement from the American Cancer Society (ACS). This claim, Oregon PSR points out, is contradicted on the ACS’s own website and and this was confirmed by the ACS in an email to the Bioscience Resource Project: “The American Cancer Society (ACS) has no formal position regarding rBGH.” stated the email. Another endorsement claimed by the paper is from the American Association of Pediatrics, a claim also disputed by the coalition. “I can confirm that AAP does not endorse the safety of rbGH” wrote an AAP spokesperson to the the Bioscience Resource Project, also in an email.

The Bioscience Resource Project contacted various of the authors for clarification. One, Professor of Lactation Physiology Stephen Nickerson was unaware of any errors. Second author and Dietitian Connie Bales declined to answer questions via email or on the telephone. David Clemmons, however, accepted that the AMA, the AAP and the ACS endorsements were “technically untrue”. “We counted endorsement as failure to oppose rbGH”, he said. Lead author Richard Raymond, however, in a written statement to the Bioscience Resource Project said the authors stood by all the endorsements excepting that of the AAP. In the same statement he also clarified the papers’ assertion that 17 other “leading health organisations in the United States” also endorse “Its safety for human consumption”. Asked to identify the organisations, his list included the American Council on Science and Health, the International Food Information Council and the “White House”.

According to Rick North of Oregon PSR "Elanco’s numerous false statements and misrepresentations on endorsing organizations are only the tip of the iceberg. The entire report is riddled with similar inaccurate, misleading claims about rBGH itself.”

Dr Raymond declined to say whether the authors planned to issue a public clarification. Author Kristen Sejrsen, on the other hand remained unconcerned. “Its only a scientific paper”, he said.

(1) The groups are: The Cancer Prevention Coalition, Consumers Union, Oregon PSR and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


NOTE: In August of 2008, Elanco (Eli Lilly & Co.) bought Posilac (rBGH) from Monsanto... http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/foodlaw/2008/08/eli-lillys-elan.html

We'd like to take a brief moment, on behalf of all the conscientious eaters (Kansas City's organic and free-range locavores) we support, to express our appreciation for the diligent and dedication of those professionals out there who keep a careful eye on our food supply. Thanks!