Update on human health concerns of recombinant bovine somatotropin use in dairy cows

R. J. Collier, D. E. Bauman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Scopus citations


    The 20 yr of commercial use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) in the United States provide the backdrop for reviewing the outcome of use on human health issues by the upcoming 78th meeting of the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives. These results and further advancements in scientific knowledge indicate there are no new human health issues related to the use of rbST by the dairy industry. Use of rbST has no effect on the micro- and macrocomposition of milk. Also, no evidence exists that rbST use has increased human exposure to antibiotic residues in milk. Concerns that IGF-I present in milk could have biological effects on humans have been allayed by studies showing that oral consumption of IGF-I by humans has little or no biological activity. Additionally, concentrations of IGF-I in digestive tract fluids of humans far exceed any IGF-I consumed when drinking milk. Furthermore, chronic supplementation of cows with rbST does not increase concentrations of milk IGF-I outside the range typically observed for effects of farm, parity, or stage of lactation. Use of rbST has not affected expression of retroviruses in cattle or posed an increased risk to human health from retroviruses in cattle. Furthermore, risk for development of type 1 or type 2 diabetes has not increased in children or adults consuming milk and dairy products from rbST-supplemented cows. Overall, milk and dairy products provide essential nutrients and related benefits in health maintenance and the prevention of chronic diseases.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1800-1807
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of animal science
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Apr 2014


    • Antibiotic residues
    • Bovine somatotropin
    • Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • Insulin-like growth factor I
    • Retroviruses

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Food Science
    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Genetics


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