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Confusion about GMOs & hormones in milk and meat leads to advocacy momentConfusion about GMOs & hormones in milk and meat leads to advocacy moment

December 17, 2014

3 Min Read
Confusion about GMOs & hormones in milk and meat leads to advocacy moment

My youngest sister Kaley is a senior in high school, and she is taking a few college classes this semester. In her college-level English composition class, she was given the assignment of writing a persuasive essay on a hot topic of her choice. She chose to address genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and consumer concerns about GMOs in food.

In visiting with her professor about her chosen topic, Kaley was told that although her teacher didn’t know much about GMOs, she refused to feed her daughter “GMO-milk” because the “hormones would cause her to reach early onset puberty.” Wait, what?


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Here was a college-level professor mixing up one misconception about food with another. Somehow she had convinced herself that milk and meat could be genetically modified and that GMO crops contained hormones. Confused? I sure was when Kaley called me to tell me about it, and her essay ended up being a basic explanation of GMO crops as well as a lesson in the naturally occurring hormones in meat and milk. I encouraged Kaley to share this Meat MythCrushers video addressing concerns about hormone use in beef production.

According to Meat MythCrushers, “Hormones like estrogen are used in modern beef production to increase the amount of beef that can be harvested from cattle. However, these hormones are the same as, or synthetic versions of those naturally produced by cattle. The estrogen that is used in beef production, for example, is used at levels that are a fraction of what is found in soybean oil, soybeans, eggs and what is produced by the human body.

READ: A visual to add to your arsenal about hormones and beef

“Consider that a pound of soybean oil contains 900,000 nanograms of estrogen/lb. Compare that to 1.9 nanograms/lb. found in beef produced using hormone implants and 1.7 nanograms/lb. in non-implanted beef.

“While some people cite Europe's ban on hormone-treated beef from the U.S. as evidence that hormones are a concern, Europe's own scientists have affirmed that hormone use in cattle production is safe. Unfortunately, European political bodies have rejected the science and refused to lift the ban. Because high quality U.S. beef is produced more efficiently and economically, it is a prime competitor to European-produced beef.”

This conversation with a local professor in our rural town is a strong reminder that misconceptions about beef aren’t just prevalent among consumers on the coasts or activists on the Internet; there are real questions and concerns about food from people in our hometowns. Never miss an opportunity to be an advocate for the beef industry.

As for Kaley, I'm not sure if she changed her professor's mind or not with her persuasive essay, but she did get an A if that's any indication of her effectiveness.  

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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