Essay about The Ethics of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST)

Essay about The Ethics of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST)

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The world is continuously progressing, and biotechnology has found ways to create an array of products in higher quantities, at unparalleled rates. However, the repercussions of such technology have caused controversy: one specific area of debate has been the use of bovine somatotropin (BST), a growth hormone which increases lactation levels in cattle. Prior to 1994, BST was only available from post-mortem extraction from the pituitaries of cows, making it impractical for general use; however, recombinant DNA technology has permitted for the development of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). Recombinant DNA can be mass produced, meaning growth hormones could be used in unprecedented quantities. Although rBSTs may be superficially beneficial, some evidence suggests that the use of them produces more harm than good. Because of its negative ecological effect, minimal economic benefit and inherent ethical problems (potentially harming both cows and humans), the use of rBST should be limited, if not banned altogether.

Although cows administered rBSTs may theoretically produce more milk, they tend to have more health issues than non-treated cows. One way this manifests is reduced pregnancy rates in cattle. Some studies have shown that rBST-treated cows are 40% less fertile than their untreated counterparts (Organic Valley, 2012). Inherently, low fertility negatively affects a herd, because maximum reproduction allows for genetic diversity. A limited gene pool in any species increases the risk for mutations in the offspring. Fortunately, not enough cows are currently treated with growth hormone for this to be a major issue; however, awareness of the possible risks in hormone treatment is imperative to maintain healthy livestock. C...


... middle of paper ...


...h potential danger as recombinant bovine somatotropin is an inexcusably reckless act.



Works Cited

American Cancer Society. Learn about Cancer. (February 2, 2011) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/recombinant-bovine-growth-hormone

Burnside, E. B.; Leitch, H. W. Bovine Somatotropin: Boon for the 1990's?. (July 1986) http://cgil.uoguelph.ca/pub/articles/bovine.html

Butler, L. J. The Profitability Of rBST On US Dairy Farms. (1999) http://www.agbioforum.org/v2n2/v2n2a08-butler.htm

Department of Animal Science. Mastitis in Dairy Cows. http://animsci.agrenv.mcgill.ca/courses/450/topics/13.pdf

Drugs.com. Posilac.(April 29, 2012) http://www.drugs.com/vet/posilac.html

Organic Valley Family Farms. Frequently Asked Questions About rBGH.
(2012) http://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic/synthetic-hormones/about-rbgh/

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