In sharp contrast,
confidential industry reports to the FDA, obtained under the Freedom
of Information Act, have revealed high hormone residues in meat
under idealized test conditions. Following a single implant in a
steer of Synovex-S, a combination of estradiol and progesterone,
estradiol levels in different meat products were over 20-fold higher
than normal. The amount of estradiol in two hamburgers eaten daily
by an 8-year-old boy would increase his hormone residues by at least
10 percent over very low natural levels.
situation may be much worse in real life. An unpublicized random
USDA survey of 32 large feedlots found that as many as half the
cattle had illegal "misplaced implants" in muscle, rather
than under the ear skin. This would result in very high local concentrations
of hormones, and in meat all over the body. Besides such abusive
practice, accidental implantation of hormone pellets in neck muscle,
rather than under ear skin, is not uncommon and would also result
in high residues in meat.
These sex hormones,
particularly estradiol, are linked ever more closely to the escalating
incidence of reproductive cancers since 1973 -- 54% for post-menopausal
breast cancer, 67% for testicular cancer, and 105% for prostate
cancer. Of particular concern also is the increasing incidence of
premature puberty in young girls, which has been linked to hormonal
disruptive effects of estrogenic industrial chemicals, including
pesticides, cosmetic ingredients, and food contaminants, are now
under intensive investigation by federal regulatory and health agencies.
But the contamination of meat with residues of the much more potent
estradiol, besides other sex hormones, remains ignored.
Europe has been
highly skeptical of U.S. claims on the safety of hormonal meat,
and banned its sale and import since 1989. In 1997, the U.S. and
Canada appealed this ban before the World Trade Organization (WTO)
on the grounds that it was discriminatory trade practice, and not
scientifically justified. The WTO ruled in favor of the appeal on
the narrow and arguable technical grounds that the European Commission
(EC) had not undertaken a formal quantitative "health risk
assessment," and imposed financial penalties on the EC.
The EC then
requested a "Scientific Committee" of nine independent
experts, including four from the U.S., to undertake a comprehensive
risk assessment of all growth-promoting hormones. By 1999, the Committee
concluded that the risk to consumers had been clearly established,
and that safe exposure levels could not be identified for any of
these hormones. They further warned that exposure to even small
traces in meat posed carcinogenic, endocrine, and genetic risks,
especially for pre-pubertal children because of their "extremely
low level" of production of sex hormones. In striking contrast,
despite the EC's repeated requests, the U.S. has failed to produce
any scientific information or publications on which they still base
their claims of safety.
The EC went
further by funding 17 comprehensive studies on hormone residues
in meat. All these, most already published in peer-reviewed scientific
journals, further document the carcinogenic, genetic, and other
risks of hormonal meat.
further strengthen its "Social Responsibility" campaign
by extending concerns on the dangers of growth-promoting agents,
from the antibiotic to the hormonal.
Source: Cancer Prevention Coalition