Update on human health concerns of recombinant bovine somatotropin use in dairy cows

J Anim Sci. 2014 Apr;92(4):1800-7. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-7383. Epub 2014 Feb 10.


The 20 yr of commercial use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) in the United States provide the backdrop for reviewing the outcome of use on human health issues by the upcoming 78th meeting of the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives. These results and further advancements in scientific knowledge indicate there are no new human health issues related to the use of rbST by the dairy industry. Use of rbST has no effect on the micro- and macrocomposition of milk. Also, no evidence exists that rbST use has increased human exposure to antibiotic residues in milk. Concerns that IGF-I present in milk could have biological effects on humans have been allayed by studies showing that oral consumption of IGF-I by humans has little or no biological activity. Additionally, concentrations of IGF-I in digestive tract fluids of humans far exceed any IGF-I consumed when drinking milk. Furthermore, chronic supplementation of cows with rbST does not increase concentrations of milk IGF-I outside the range typically observed for effects of farm, parity, or stage of lactation. Use of rbST has not affected expression of retroviruses in cattle or posed an increased risk to human health from retroviruses in cattle. Furthermore, risk for development of type 1 or type 2 diabetes has not increased in children or adults consuming milk and dairy products from rbST-supplemented cows. Overall, milk and dairy products provide essential nutrients and related benefits in health maintenance and the prevention of chronic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Dairying*
  • Drug Residues / analysis
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Growth Hormone / adverse effects*
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / cytology
  • Somatomedins / chemistry
  • Somatomedins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Viruses


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Somatomedins
  • Growth Hormone
  • sometribove