No Longer Growing: The Diminishing Use of rBST

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), between its peak in 2002 and the most recent survey in 2014, the use of the hormone recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) by the dairy industry declined by 36 percent. Driven by consumer demand for “natural” dairy products and a desire by the industry to cash in on the hormone-free marketing claim, the majority of dairy processors are choosing to transition away from the use of growth hormones. Although the dairy industry claims consumers have been misled about the effects of using growth hormones, the European Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare reports that the use of hormones leads to higher incidences of foot pain, mastitis, and injection site reactions in dairy cattle. In a win for animal welfare, and in response to public pressure, Wisconsin—the second largest dairy-producing state—claims it will be 90 percent rBST-free by 2018.

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