The Journal of History     Summer 2004    TABLE OF CONTENTS

The True Cost of Milk

by Robert Cohen
January 10, 2000


During the first week of each month, figures for the wholesale price of milk (basic formula price = BFP) are released by the federal government. The BFP represents the dollar arnount that dairy farmers receive for every hundred pounds of milk they produce.

In December of 1998, dairy farmers were receiving 517.34 for each hundredweight of milk. They now receive $9.63* The price of milk continues to drop for two reasons. First, people continue to drink less milk. Second, the dairy industry continues to produce more milk. Simultaneous to the decrease in demand, dairymen are increasing the supply.


What has been the dairy industry solution to this financial tragedy in the making? Their response has been to breed more super-cows which produce even more milk, and to promote the use of rbGH so that cows injected wlth Monsanto's hormone super-saturate a market unable to even utilize the existing surplus.

Monsanto's genetically engineered recon~binant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) created mastitis in dairy cows, which resulted in a different milk containing more hormones, bacteria, pus, and antibiotics. Monsanto's rbGH caused cancer in laboratory animals. Because of the milk controversy, the public is aware that milk contains hormones, and as they arrive at this understanding, they eliminate milk and dairy products from their diets.

In early December, the FBP dropped to $9.79. On January 5th, the BFP dropped an additional 16 cents.

This year, 170 billion pounds of milk will be produced. A 16-cent drop represents a yearly-adjusted gross loss of income to dairy farmers of $272 million.


To make matters worse, the federal government guarantees farmers at least $9.80 for their milk. Guess who gets to subsidize the dairy farmers for that last price drop? We have become innocent bystanders and victims to this vicious and absurd circle. As more of Monsanto's hormone is used, more milk is produced, more IGF-I is consumed, more cows get sick, more people get cancer, more antibiotics are used, farmers get less money for their milk, and more subsidies are paid to farmers from taxpayers. Monsanto has become the beneficiary of this insanity.

One hundred and seventy billion pounds of milk at last year's price, $17.34 per hundredwelght, would have generated 29.4 billion dollars. At this year's historically low price, farmers will net just 16.4 bililon dollars. Did the dairy industustry really need this hormone?


Finally, a complete evaluation of rbGH reveals:


Genetically engineered milk is unsafe for consumer's health. Genetically engineered milk is unsafe for the financial well being of America's dairy farmer. Thanks, Monsanto.



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