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National School Lunches: Unsafe at Any Eating, Warns Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.

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April 10, 2006


Get the Facts on April 11th, BioETHICS Chicago Conference CHICAGO,

On April 6, a bipartisan Congressional group, with strong support in both Houses, announced plans to introduce legislation amending the National School Lunch Act.

This would prohibit the sale in schools of sugary or fatty junk foods, notably soft drinks and French fries.

This initiative officially endorses longstanding efforts by many school districts to provide only healthy foods, and hopefully reduce the growing incidence of childhood obesity and related diseases.

Enforcement of this initiative would be the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is in charge of the current Public School Lunch Program. This extended authority was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a national food safety activist group, stating that "The Agency has done a good job with the official school lunch and could do a good job with all other foods."

This endorsement may well be warranted nutritionally. However, it certainly is not warranted by the USDA's failure to disclose well-documented scientific evidence on the risks to health of the two school lunch staples, milk and meat.

Much of the nation's milk supply comes from cows injected with a genetically engineered variant of their natural growth hormone, technically known as rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone).

Manufactured by Monsanto, and sold to dairy farmers under the trade name POSILAC. Injection of the hormone forces cows to increase their milk yield by about 10 percent, while making them sick in the process.

Monsanto and the USDA insist that rBGH milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is safe for children and other consumers. This is scientifically and medically untrue. rBGH milk makes cows sick

Monsanto has been forced to admit to some 20 toxic veterinary effects on its POSILAC label. These include mastitis, resulting in pus cells in milk, and antibiotics used to treat the mastitis. rBGH milk is also chemically, and nutritionally different than natural milk, and is supercharged with excess levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the intestines into the blood.

Of major concern is a wealth of longstanding scientific evidence incriminating these excess levels as delayed causes of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

Reacting to the fully documented scientific evidence on the dangers of rBGH milk, a wide range of nations including all of Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have banned rBGH milk.

U.S. beef is heavily contaminated with sex hormones. When U.S. beef cattle enter feedlots, sex hormone pellets are implanted under the ear skin, a process that is repeated at the midpoint of their 100-day pre-slaughter fattening period. These hormones increase the weight of the cattle, adding to profits by about $80 per animal.

The hormones in past and current use include the natural estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, and their more potent synthetic counterparts, zeranol, trenbolone, and melengesterol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA have both maintained and still claim that residues of these hormones in meat are safe and within "normal limits."

However, confidential industry reports to the FDA, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, have revealed high residues of the hormones in meat products. Following a single ear implant in steers of Synovex-S, a combination of estradiol and progesterone, their residues in meat were found to be up to 20-fold higher than normal.

The amount of estradiol in two hamburgers eaten in one day by an 8-year-old boy could increase his total hormone levels by as much as 10%, particularly as young children have very low natural hormone levels.

Increased levels of sex hormones are linked ever more closely to the escalating increase of reproductive cancers in the U.S., 36% for post- menopausal breast cancer, 51% for testicular cancer, and 88% for prostate cancer, since 1975.

These concerns have been strongly reinforced by recent evidence, from researchers at Ohio State University, that meat and blood from cattle implanted with zeranol have powerful hormonal effects, which resist cooking.

Europe has viewed longstanding U.S. claims with considerable skepticism.

Since 1989, all 25 European nations have banned the sale of beef from hormone- treated cattle.

The national School Lunch Program is a major focus of the current Midwest BioETHICS 2006 ( ) conference in Chicago. This culminates in a Tuesday evening session on the critical need for certified organic milk and meat to replace the current dangerous staples. The conference coincides with the national Biotechnology Industry Organization, which aggressively promotes the industrialization of the nation's food supply.

SOURCE Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, Professor emeritus Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health -0- 04/10/2006 /CONTACT: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor emeritus Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, +1-312-996-2297, / /Web site: - / CO: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, Professor emeritus Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health; BioETHICS 2006 ST: Illinois IN: HEA EDU FOD SPM BIO SU: SVY CHI LEG POL TDS TG-JK -- CGM059 -- 7047 04/10/2006 15:00 EDT

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