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Canadian dairy farmers have been forced to pull adverts which falsely claimed there are no growth hormones in their milk.
The adverts, which had been running nationwide, prompted complaints to Advertising Standards Canada – the advertising industry’s self-regulating body.
According to the Plant Food Council, all dairy naturally contains growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is intended to promote rapid growth in calves, as well as large amounts of estrogens and progesterone as cows on large farms are milked throughout pregnancies. In addition, it contains bovine somatropin (BST), the naturally occurring growth hormone upon which the banned synthetic rBGH is modeled.
Milk and hormones
“While synthetic bovine growth hormone is mostly banned for use in Canada because of the harm it causes to cows, Canadian milk does contain several hormones,” said Anna Pippus, a lawyer and director of the Plant-based Policy Center, said in a statement.
“Like all mammalian milk, cow milk is intended to promote rapid growth in babies, helping calves to gain up to 80 pounds per month. Milk contains naturally occurring growth hormones to help accomplish this. Milk also contains high levels of estrogen and progesterone, because on modern dairy farms, cows are kept in a state of near-constant pregnancy to ensure continued lactation.
“Most milk comes from pregnant cows. The Dairy Farmers of Canada ad claiming Canadian milk contains zero growth hormones is false, which violates advertising standards. It is appropriate that the ads have been pulled.”
Dairy in Canada
The ban is another blow to Canadian dairy farmers, who have seen milk consumption drop since 2009, according to Statistics Canada – as plant-based alternatives have become more popular.
The guide, which is created by the federal government and influences meals served in public canteens as well as private homes, used to feature four food groups – milk and milk products; meat and alternatives; grain products; and fruits and vegetables. Cheese is left off the guide altogether, and the suggested drink is water.
Speaking about the new guide, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told Canadian paper The Globe and Mail that the meat and dairy industries had been lobbying. “The only thing I can say is that these many groups have made their positions known, and it is their right to do so.
“We want to make sure Canadians have access to the best information with the food guide – the best information based on the best science out there, and science that’s not influenced by industry.”