Animal Growth Hormones Advancements in technology are perceived as positive achievements in almost every industry except agriculture. With the increasing popularity of health conscientious Americans it has become a growing concern to whether or not certain foods are being produced safe and healthy for consumption. Labels such as Certified Organic, No Genetically Modified Organisms, and All Natural have become outstanding marketing ploys, but on the other hand agricultural producers and their practices are being reprehended.
Animal Growth Hormones are also being shamed in healthy lifestyles. Many people fear that animal growth hormones are creating unwanted health issues in humans as well as livestock. These issues include early childhood puberty, dangerous residue levels left in beef treated with animal growth hormones, and the animals’ welfare. Animal growth hormones are essential in order to meet the demand of the world’s increasing population. Growth hormones are humane for the treatment of animals and safe for human consumption when used correctly.
For over 10,000 years agriculturalists have been dedicated to cultivating crops and tending to livestock for the purpose of providing food and fiber or humans. Livestock was domesticated centuries ago by nomads, which were humans that traveled long distances to hunt herds and flocks of animals. Nomads discovered that if they domesticated these animals they would ensure a regular supply of fresh meat without relocating. Today, the livestock infrastructure produces trillions of pounds of food and product to people every day.
Things like meat, milk, and eggs are produced in large quantities by agriculturalists. Not to mention the by-products like household goods, clothing, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Recent data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and reported on The National Chicken Council website shows that the per capita consumption of poultry and red meat in the United States was 202. 3 pounds in the year 2014. It has been estimated that by the end of 2016 a single American will increase their meat consumption by 10. pounds, equaling a grand total of 213 pounds of meat consumed in a year (National Chicken Council 3).
If you take this number and multiply it by the current and increasing world population of 7. 3 billion people, that will give you a rough estimate of 1,541,030,000,000 pounds of meat that needs to be roduced this year alone (United States Census Bureau 1). Consider the possibility that by the year 2050 the world population will increase to over 9 billion individuals. The demand for agricultural and animal products today is extremely high and is only going to continue to grow.
Keeping up with today supply is hard enough, agriculturalists will be challenged to improve the quantity of all agricultural products. Research compiled by World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service and reported by the USDA shows that since 2002 to 014, the number of cattle in the United States has actually decreased consistently from 96. 7 million total cattle to 88. 5 million.
How is it possible that U. S. beef producers can provide nearly 24. billion pounds of beef each year and feed the growing population of humans, when the population of cattle is decreasing (USDA ERS – Cattle & Beef: Statistics & Information 1)? Since the 1950s, agriculturalists with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration have been developing and perfecting methods that have been proven to increase production by making livestock more efficient (“Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing Animals” 1). Today one producer can feed nearly 155 people, which is a large advance compared to the average 27 people fed in 1950.
Efficiency can be improved by developing feeding strategies that allows animals to eat less and still be able to utilize the nutritional ration, in order to produce the same, if not more pounds gained. Agriculturalists’ solution to feeding the increasing population is using animal growth hormones (“Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing Animals” 1). Growth hormones promote rate of gain, evelopment, and regeneration and is released in the response to neural stimulation such as during sleep and exercise (“Textbook of Veterinary Histology” 305).
Another name for growth hormone is Somatotropin, which is produced naturally in the anterior pituitary gland of humans as well as animals. This gland is a major organ in the endocrine system secreting hormones that are essential for not only growth, but sexual development, thyroid functions and many other naturally occurring hormones. One of the most important growth hormone secreting glands in the male body is the testicles, hich secretes the hormone testosterone (“The Science of Animal Agriculture” 239). However, in almost all cases male meat producing animals are castrated as soon as one day after birth or up to one year of age.
There are various reasons why castration is commonly practiced, but most importantly, because of the difference in flavor, texture, fat composition, and overall palatability. Without the testicles to produced necessary growth hormones the rate of gain is reduced severely (“The Science of Animal Agriculture” 239). Therefore, agriculturalist use synthetic growth hormone that is synthesized using ecombinant DNA technologies. These hormones can be utilized by feed ingested orally or implanted in a small pellet form.
Growth promoting implants are also effective tools for achieving increased production with only a small additional cost for the implant. Growth promoting implants are also used to increase the rate of gain and feed efficiency. It works by acting like a natural occurring hormone, therefore tricking the body into increasing muscle mass and reducing fat deposition. Growth implant pellets measure nearly 2 millimeters in diameter and inserted with a specially designed hypodermic eedle between the skin and cartilage of the ear (“Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing Animals” 1).
The ear is used because it is not part of the food system so there is no risk of the highly concentrated pellet being found in meat (1). Once implanted, the active ingredients are slowly released into the animal’s blood stream (1). Mentioned in the paragraph above, hormones occur naturally in animals and even in some fruits and vegetables. In the article published by North American Meat Institute, shows that several common foods contain “Estrogenic Activity”. For an example Soybean oil onsists of 168,000,000 nano-grams of estrogenic activity per every 3 oz. erving.
In the figure below provided by the North American Meat Institute goes on to explain that produces like milk, potatoes, and peas contain more estrogenic activity than 3 oz. of beef treated with a growth hormone implant. It is undeniable that a 3 oz. steak from implanted cattle contains more estrogen than a steak from non-implanted cattle. In fact a 3 oz. serving of certified organic beef contains 1. 3 nanograms of estrogen (North American Meat Institute 2). Research conducted by Bruce Treffer and published by the
University of Nebraska – Lincoln, goes on to explain that one birth-control pill, taken daily by over 100 million women worldwide, contains 35,000 nano-grams of estrogen. That’s equivalent of eating 3,684 pounds of beef from hormone- implanted cattle every single day. The effects of animal growth hormones are minuscule in correlation to other common foods. Many feel that animals that have received growth hormones are causing unwanted health problems in humans if consumed. Some claim that milk from dairy cattle that were treated with recombinant Bovine Somatotropin or rBST, is the reason for arly development of puberty in young adults.
Bovine somatotropin or BST is a hormone that is naturally occurring in cattle and naturally found in milk, 1BST is simply a synthesized form of the naturally occurring hormone (“Bovine Somatotropin (BST)” 1). Research conducted as early as the 1930s and 1940s in Russia and England has found that by injecting cattle pituitary extracts could increase milk production (1). However, it wasn’t 1980s that commercial BST became available on the market (1). Dr. Katie M. Schoenberg earned her Master of Science at University of Maryland and her Ph. D in Animal Science and tudied the nutrition and metabolism of dairy cattle from Cornell University.
In the article “Truth from the Dairy Aisle: Is Milk from Cows Receiving rBST Safe for my Family? “, Schoenberg explains how no laboratory test can tell whether milk came from a cow treated with rBST or not. Then, she goes on to explain that rBST hormone is a protein and once it enters your gastrointestinal tract, it is broken down into amino acids just like any other protein. Even if rBST did survive the digestion process, a human’s body would not recognize it, because it is a structure only receptors in a cow’s digestive system could detect Schoenberg 2).
Bruce Treffer addresses the issue of why children seem to be reaching puberty at in early age, “Genetics play a role, but hormones make far less sense than calories consumed and increased levels of body fat (2). ” Therefore, exposure to higher than natural levels of hormones from hormone treated meat have never been studied nor documented. Growth hormones are also believed to be inhumane and harmful to animal health causing livestock to become lame and stiff making it hard for them to walk. Ractopamine-based products like Paylean for swine, Optaflexx for cattle, and Topmax for turkeys are being targeted.
Ractopamine is a beta agonists that stimulate additional growth by directing more of the feed energy consumed, toward the production of lean muscle and away from additional fat deposition at the cellular level, and the hormone status of the animal is not affected. Because beta agonists are quickly metabolized by the animal they are not stored in the body over time. Ractopamine can be fed to an animal in its last few weeks, right up until slaughter and there is no mandatory withdrawal period, which is the time period between administration of a medical treatment and when the treatment has work its way out of the animals system.
The negative consequences of feeding ractopamine based products is no existent. Researchers have not observed any negative effects on the animal’s conformation. However, if the animal has a poor skeletal structure from the time of birth the added muscle could cause problems. And also feeding more than the recommended dosage, feeding the product beyond the recommended time of days, or any other misconduct of the label is illegal. (U. S Food and Drug Administration) The safety of the nation’s food supply is monitored by three government agencies including the United States Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA is a government agency, which was established in 1906, within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (Penson, John B. 206). The FDA is responsible for setting regulations for the safety of the nation’s food supply. This agency is made up of many center categories, but for this issue specifically, the Center for Veterinary Medicine is responsible for ensuring that animal drugs are safe, effective and manufactured to the highest quality standard (Animal Health Institute 1).
The FDA wouldn’t approve a drug that is not healthy for human consumption nor would they approve a drug that would be harmful to animal health. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association explains the prosess of approving a drug intended for animal use, “Growth promoting products are approved by the FDA based on rigorous scientific testing procedures similar to those used for human medications.
The use of growth promotants in cattle production has been declared safe by scientific organizations worldwide, including the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization, the European Commission Agriculture Division and the Codex Committee on Veterinary Residues. The safe use of growth promotants in beef production is assured by the product approval procedures required by FDA, as well as by the on-going testing policies and procedures administered by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
FSIS regularly tests for residues in meat that would indicate misuse of growth promoting products and has not found any. (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association 1) In conclusion, it is misunderstood by many that without technological advancements made by livestock and crop producers, people all around the world would be struggling with many issues including hunger and starvation. Agriculturalists are doing everything to provide a sufficient supply of safe and healthy commodities.
Due to the increasing population it would not be possible for agriculturalist to continue to feed the world if they were to be discouraged from using advancements such as animal growth hormones. Growth promotants have been used in agriculture for more than 50 years without any negative affect on human health. Animal growth hormones can only benefit the consumers in the world, because as a result livestock will grow faster, have leaner carcasses at a given weight and as for dairy producing livestock they will be able to increase production of milk tremendously.
All livestock will make more efficient use of the feed that they consume. Producers can raise beef at a lower cost, and the consumer will benefit from both the lower cost and leaner cuts of beef. Without animal growth hormones or ractopamine-based products, meat and dairy products would be food for only the rich. Agriculturalist wouldn’t be able to supply enough for everyone to be able to purchase at a reasonable price. It would put many industries out of business and many employees out of a job. The detrimental possibilities would be endless. A world without animal growth hormones, would be a world without progress.