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Dairy Reform Opens Door For US Growth Hormone

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said that dairy industry reform is likely to lead to the sale in New Zealand of US dairy imports containing growth hormones which are banned here.

"The controversial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, also known as synthetic bovine somatotropin) raises serious animal welfare issues and leaves a residue in milk which has been linked to cancer," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"I'm very concerned that many more of American dairy products produced with this hormone might be imported as a result of the dairy reform and Fonterra's new connection with Nestle.

"I'm even more concerned that the Government had no answers in Parliament yesterday about whether there are any controls on the sale of American dairy products from cows treated with this hormone, or whether there is any requirement for these dairy products to be labelled.

"Health Minister Annette King told me during question time yesterday she had sought advice from her officials, and would come back with some answers. I welcome Mrs King's commitment to getting some answers. There are serious health and animal welfare issues here so the answers better be good."

The use of rBGH to boost milk production has been banned in New Zealand because the European Union, one of our main export markets, will not take dairy products containing the hormone.

The growth hormone is used on around 30 percent of cows in America, and their milk is mixed haphazardly with other milk. Use of the hormone causes health problems for cows, such as higher infertility rates, lameness and mastitis - a painful teat infection.

"The animal welfare issues surrounding rBGH are really nasty," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The health issues are quite serious too - milk from these cows contains up to five times more of a substance called IGF-1 which has been linked with the development of some cancers of the breast, colon and prostate."

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