Here's why we should worry about cancerous substances in dairy products - Firstpost
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Here's why we should worry about cancerous substances in dairy products


Parents in India protest when they find their child is "on drugs". It is a road, which every sensible human being knows, leads to severe brain and body damage and often to death. These same parents don’t seem so concerned about even more lethal drugs that their children eat every day as part of their normal food; drugs that contribute as frequently to severe brain and body damage and as often to death. Are you aware what you or your child eats every day?

Every time you drink milk or eat eggs, meat or chicken, you are eating a cocktail of harmful drugs. Any animal that has been grown forcibly, in container-like factory farms, owes its existence not to mother nature but to chemistry. In the 1920s, the identification of Vitamins A and D made it possible for the broiler industry to crowd a great number of chickens indoors. Then in the 1940s, came Dr Thomas Jukes' discovery, that antibiotics make chickens grow faster, and from thereon antibiotics became standard additives for poultry, cattle, calves and pigs.

A representational image of chicken farm. Reuters

A representational image of a chicken farm. Reuters

In the 50s and 60s, animal scientists found that artificial hormones and hormone-like substitutes could alter growth and reproduction. These are now a staple in animal diet and medicine.

People talk of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in our fruit and vegetables. For some reason, we readily accept that our fruit and vegetables are contaminated with chemicals and assorted carcinogens. But why are we so naive to think that milk, meat and eggs are "natural" without any chemical injection or manipulation?

Food produced from animals is more altered by chemistry and invasive manipulation than any food that comes from plants. In February 1989, the US Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) Director remarked: "The majority of pesticide-contaminated human food incidents of the last decade were the result of human exposure through consumption of contaminated animal products." Use of potent drugs and pesticides in industrial animal production is not even thought of in horticulture. For instance:

1) Manipulation of chicken flavour through chemistry so that each "producer" has his own peculiar chicken taste. An article brought out in Broiler Industry in April 1975 said: "We've been accused of selling a chicken with less flavour than the 'old-time' chicken. Attempts are being made at overcoming the flavour problem by injection or marinating." The yolk of the egg, for instance, is completely fake. Xanthophyll, zeaxanthin, marigold extract and caroteinic acid are some of the feed additives used to make egg yolks - which come out pale in all factory chickens, as natural sunlight and grass are needed for a yellow yolk.

2) Obviously, flies and other pests multiply in factory farms. They have to be eliminated. Some egg producers spray mists of insecticide through the cages and onto the birds. For cattle, organophosphate insecticides are applied as sprays, dust bags, back rubbers, pour-ons or feed additives. Some milk producers affix ear tags of pyrethroid insecticides to the animals. In factory dairies, the air is sprayed with a chemical that has the highly-toxic Dichlorvos, an organophosphate of the nerve gas family. Some farmers dip their animals in the hugely poisonous Lindane to get rid of lice and fleas. For fly control, a larvicide is added to the animal feed.

3) Antibiotics are an essential part of the factory farm diet. Almost half the antibiotics produced every year in the world are fed to food-producing animals. Penicillin and tetracycline are the most commonly used. According to the National Research Council, about 90 percent of antibiotics are given in the form of feed additives and saturate the milk, eggs and meat that we eat. No wonder the human body is becoming immune to antibiotic therapy.

4) In addition to antibiotics, following are some of the drugs used to control fowl cholera, mastitis, pneumonia, atrophic rhinitis, dysentery, enteritis, parasites and diseases caused by protozoa and bacteria: Sulphanamides (Sulfathiazole, Sulphamethazine, Sulfanitran, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfaquinoxaline).

Sulphamethazine (SM2) is the most widely used, especially in dairy cattle. It is popular because it has unusually long "staying power", which means that its medicinal effects last longer. Unfortunately, this drug stays as residue in both milk and meat and has been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaemia. Extremely high levels of SM2 exist in milk – up to 80 milligrams per kilolitre have been found - an amount that should be spread over 60,000 kilolitres.

5) Probiotics are used to aid the development of bacteria in the animal's stomach. This is to improve digestion in the tied down, crushed, immovable animal.

6) Hormones are used as growth promotants, usually implanted in the animal's ear. Zeranol, Testosterone, Progesterone and Estradiol are some of the growth accelerators used. These chemicals change metabolism, stimulate muscle growth and increase litters and, in the case of dairy cows, bring out more milk.

7) The egg industry adds antioxidants to chicken feed to lengthen hens' egg-laying cycles.

8) Poultry and pig producers use arsenical compounds to speed growth, feed efficiency and boost egg production.

9) Oxytetracycline Dexamethasone, Lincomycine, Spectinomycineamino acid solution, Phenylbutazone (for “stress”), Amoxicillin, Amprolium, Levamisole, potassium penicillin, Tylosin, Trimethoprim... these are some of the drugs given in tablet, liquid or injection form and several of them are known carcinogens and have "severely restricted use" labels on them. About 92 percent of the drugs for food animal are sold over the counter; which means that anyone can buy them without prescription or supervision. This also means that there is very little accountability in the meat, milk and egg business. And low accountability always leads to shortcuts and abuse.

The "modern" animal business, the factory farm, uses between twenty to thirty thousand drugs to control diseases and boost productivity.

The United States General Accounting Office made a review of the potentially harmful residues of animal drugs, pesticides and contaminants in meat and poultry. In a country like the US, which is protected by the strict laws of the Food and Drug Administration, they found 143 drugs and pesticide residues in meat and poultry (42 are known to cause or are suspected of causing cancer, 20 of causing birth defects; and six of causing mutations.)

India is using every single one of these drugs and quite a few more – as the standards are even laxer.

Most of the animal drugs on the market have not been properly tested and their long-term effects are unknown. Even chemicals that are known to be dangerous and are banned all over the world, like DDT or Phenol, continue to be used in Indian animal factories.

Factory farmers feeding drugs to animals are supposed to stop feeding them a specified number of days before killing them. The idea is that drugs should not be present in the animal's flesh when it is killed. (This doesn't apply to milk or eggs, as no withdrawal is possible from the daily drug feed). Most farmers don't understand the withdrawal schedules, so the drug is given until the end. Even if they stop it, the drug, which is usually given in food bins, continues to contaminate feed mixers, bins and waterlines. Then, animals that are found to be sick or deteriorating are "culled" and sent to the market immediately, with drugs still coursing through their bodies.

Not scared enough? Let me add some more. A large number of animals, especially chickens, die of cancer. Millions of kilos of dead animal meat are cancer-ridden. What happens to these dead bodies? Are they thrown away? No, this cancerous meat is processed into chicken feed and re-fed to factory animals. The result is a recycling of potential cancer substances repeatedly through the animal and human chain.

Want to know more? For instance, animal bones, kidneys and livers often contain dangerous levels of heavy metals - cadmium, lead, arsenic - which build up in their bodies from the food they are fed. This issue has been repeatedly taken up by consumer bodies abroad. The answer from the animal industry is: "The toxic metals accumulate in the parts we don't eat." Nonsense. These parts of the animal body are again ground up and put back into animal feed – so the build-up of heavy metals is constant and on the increase.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.inwww.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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