The US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has dismissed claims by the deputy chief of the Russia food safety authority that women who consume US milk from cows treated with bovine somatotropin (bST) are at risk of growing unwanted facial hair.
In an interview with Russian news outlet Rossiiskaya Gazeta , Nikolai Vlasov, the deputy head of the Russian Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service (Rosselkhoznadzor), warned that women drinking this milk “develop male sexual characteristics.”
“In the United States, dairy cows are treated with somatotropic hormones. As a result, the yield increases by 20%. And it makes women develop male sexual characteristics – whiskers grow,” Vlasov said in his interview.
The interview ran under the headline, American Milk Causes Women to Grow Moustaches.
“No physical or psychological” effects
DairyReporter.com approached the US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which represents the interests of US dairy farmers and co-operatives, regarding Vlasov’s claims.
According to NMPF senior vice president of communications, Chris Galen, “no physical or psychological ramifications” have been linked with drinking milk produced by cows treated with bST.
“First of all, he’s wrong,” said Galen. “Bovine somatotropin is not bioactive in humans.”
“All cows make this hormone; it is a naturally occurring hormone in cows. Without this hormone, cows would not lactate and we would not have dairy products.”
bST is a drug based on a growth hormone naturally produced in cattle. It was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase milk production in dairy cows in 1993 following extensive tests to determine whether its use would be safe and effective.
“The use of bovine somatotropin has decreased in the US in recent years, but around 15% of dairy farmers still use a synthetic version to induce higher milk yields.”
Potential trade barrier?
“From a trade standpoint, US dairy products are blocked from Russia for other reasons,” said Galen.
Galen added that despite the current dairy trade barrier between the US and Russia, the use of bST shouldn’t pose any trade issues.
“Even though the European Union does not permit the use of bovine somatotropin to increase milk production, it doesn’t place import barriers on dairy products made using milk produced with the help of it,” he said.
DairyReporter.com approached the Russian Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service in an effort to confirm the moustache claims, but no response was forthcoming prior to publication.