Explore the truth about dairy.

Dairy is an important and popular part of our diet and has been for generations.

Dairy cows produce about 8 gallons of milk per day.1

Like all mammals, cows naturally produce a hormone that tells their bodies to produce milk. In lactating cows, it is called bovine somatotropin (bST).2,3 Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) is a hormone that is biologically equivalent to bST, meaning that the cow’s body treats and processes this hormone the same way it processes naturally-produced bST and other protein hormones.

In addition to good feeding and care, farmers use products like rbST to help cows maintain milk production without changing the safety and quality of the dairy products we consume. When farmers supplement cows with rbST, they are able to safely produce about one gallon more milk per day. However, rbST only increases milk production if the cows are well cared for and receive good feed.2,4

Glass of milk to represent human health and safety

Human health and safety

As the most researched product on the market, rbST and resulting dairy products have been deemed safe by the FDA and regulators in more than 50 countries, as well as trusted health organizations such as WHO. In fact, bST and rbST are species limited, which means they have no effect on humans.2,5,6 Milk from cows supplemented with rbST is indistinguishable from non-supplemented cows’ milk; it has the same amount of nutrients and calories and the same low level of hormones.7

More about human health and safety
Cow to represent animal health and safety

Animal welfare

Peer-reviewed clinical studies show that rbST is well-tolerated in most cows because they naturally produce bST when lactating. A recent comprehensive review of 26 studies found no difference in the likelihood of cows getting painful diseases such as lameness, mastitis or other metabolic diseases.10

More about animal health and safety
Earth to represent environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Research shows that rbST helps each cow produce more milk, which minimizes the environmental impact of dairy farming.8 The use of rbST reduces the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by nine percent.9 This may seem like a small number, but the collective impact of this increased productivity each year in the US alone saves 95.6 billion gallons of water, reduces land needed for dairy farms by 1,023 square miles, and eliminates 2.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses.9,12

When calculating net carbon footprint, manufacturing processes and total environmental costs must be considered.

More about environment sustainability

Posilac® (an rbST treatment) is injected every 14 days starting 57–70 days after calving until the end of lactation. The label contains complete use information including cautions and warnings.

News, research and resources

Find links to the US FDA Review of the Safety of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, rBGH Q&As, dairy farming articles, and other resources.

  1. www.hoards.com/monthlymilk (formerly Dairy Facts. Farm Animal Education Network. Purdue University).
  2. Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST): A Safety Assessment. Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, Canadian Society of Animal Science and American Society of Animal Science. Republished March 26, 2012.
  3. Etherton, TD and DE Bauman. Biology of somatotropin in growth and lactation of domestic animals. Physiol Rev. 1998 Jul; 78(3):745-61
  4. McGuire MA et al. Nutritional modulation of the somatotropin/insulin-like growth factor system: response to feed deprivation in lactating cows. J. Nutr. 1995 Mar; 125(3):493-502.
  5. Daughaday WH and Barbano DM. Bovine Somatotropin supplementation of dairy cows. Is the milk safe? JAMA. 1990 Aug 22-29; 264(8):1003-5
  6. Evaluation of certain veterinary drug residues in food. The seventy-eighth report of Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. World Health Organizations 2014.
  7. Vicini et al. Survey of Retail Milk Composition as Affected by Label Claims Regarding Farm Management Practice. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul: 108(7): 1198-203.
  8. bST Fact Sheet. Cornell University. 1995. www.cfsan.fda.gov/~ear?CORBST.html
  9. Capper, JL et al. The environmental impact of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) use in dairy production. Proceeding of the National Academy of Science. 2008 July; 105(28): 9668-73.
  10. St. Pierre et al, 2014 (meta analysis)
  11. Celebrating 20 years of Dairymen Making Positive Impacts with Posiliac. Elanaco. 2014.
  12. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  13. ACT-on-TechTM: Questions and Answers on rbST. Elanco. GMA Final. 10 June 2013.
  14. Kretchmer N. Why not have more milk? Pediatrics. 1991:88:1056-7.
  15. Hammond BG et al. Food safety and pharmacokinetic studies which support a zero (0) meat and milk withdrawal time for use of sometribove in dairy cows. Ann. Rech. Vet. 1990;21 Suppl 1:107S-120S.
  16. Steingraber S. The falling age of puberty in U.S. girls: what we know, what we need to know. Breast Cancer Fund. August 2007.
  17. NIH Technology Assessment Conference Statement. Dec. 5-7, 1990.
  18. Bovine Somatotropin (bST) The Basis ACT-on-TechTM. Elanco. GMA Final. 10 June 2013
  19. McGuire MA et al. Nutritional modulation of the somatotropin/insulin-like growth factor system: response to feed deprivation in lactating cows. J. Nutr. 1995 Mar; 125(3):493-502.
  20. 9 Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee. The effect of sometribove on mastitis. FDA report from the public hearing. 31 March 1993.
  21. 11 National Mastitis Council, Cow factors in mastitis; and management and environmental factors in mastitis. Current concepts of bovine mastitis. Chapters 5-6. Madison, WI. 1996.
  22. 12 Bauman, 1999

The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warnings. Always read, understand, and follow the label and use directions. Supplement lactating dairy cows every 14 days beginning at 57–70 days in milk until the end of lactation.