Breyers says no to using milk with artificial growth hormone

Breyers Ice CreamIn a stunning announcement, Breyer’s, the mega-giant ice cream company, says it will stop using milk from cows treated with the controversial hormone rBST. The artificial growth hormone, which stands for recombinant bovine somatotropin, is a genetically engineered hormone that farmers inject into cows to increase milk production. It’s been linked to a number of serious health problems in cows, and in humans who drink the cows’ milk.

Bovine somatotropin (BST) is a protein hormone that’s naturally produced in the pituitary glands of cows. According to Organic ValleyMonsanto and other companies developed a recombinant or synthetic version, rBST, by using a genetically engineered E. coli bacteria. The hormone has been banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and the European Union yet is still allowed for use here in the U.S.

Companies like Ben & Jerry’s have already become rBST-free. Other socially conscious companies like Chipotle have opted to go rBST-free. Other companies like Wal-MartHaagen DazsYoplait and Dannon yogurts only source their milk from farmers whose cows are hormone free.

Happy cowsWith plans to have most of its milk rBST-free by March, Breyers is moving ahead with other sustainability practices. The company plans to only purchase vanilla that is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, ensuring it meets the rigorous standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Forest Stewardship Council.

Unilever, Breyers’ parent company, also owns brands including Fruttare, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum and Popsicle. It plans to have these brands also move forward towards being rBST-free. That will make the conglomerate the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world to source hormone-free milk and sustainable vanilla.

All this is great news for consumers. Let’s hope other food brands jump on this bandwagon, and soon.

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