Thu 5 Jul 2007
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In response to NY Times OP Ed piece promoting the use of a
13-year-old biological technology that stimulates milk production in dairy cows — a protein called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), or bovine growth hormone. The protein, produced naturally by a cow’s pituitary, is one of the substances that control its milk production. It can be made in large quantities with gene-splicing (recombinant DNA) techniques.
A major weakness of this book is that it is written in an overtly propagandistic literary style. Many professionals in agribusiness and academia who came of age in the 1960s will recognize the authors’ anachronistic rhetoric. Those who oppose the authors’ view are labeled as paranoid and anticapitalist. Consumers who fear biotechnology are dismissed as uninformed and irrelevent to public policy. This divisive tone undercuts the authors’ message on biotechnology. The authors are clearly writing to those whom they feel are already sympathetic to the message. The target group thus appears to be readers who intensely dislike regulation and big government. The problem with rallying anti-regulation troops to the Cause via angry and repetitive rhetoric is that the authors may alienate those who read the book with an open mind. Thus, I cannot recommend the book for the classroom and would caution graduate students to look for other data sources.
To the Editor:
Henry I. Miller argues that we should “embrace” the use of bovine growth hormone (rBST) in order to feed people more cheaply, save the environment and so on. He characterizes opponents of rBST as “cynical,” but I read Dr. Miller’s arguments as cynical.
I have no idea if rBST is safe. But I do know that the dairy industry and its lobbyists do not want to require labeling milk produced with rBST. In fact, they are so intent on reducing information available to consumers that they are lobbying to prevent dairies from labeling their milk as “rBST-free”!
There’s good reason for cynicism. George Entenman
Chapel Hill, N.C., June 29, 2007
He says “Being the North Carolina hick that I am, I think this is a big deal!”
Hey, I think it’s a big deal too!
Well done George.