The FDA on Friday approved Monsanto Co.'s bovinesomatotropin (BST) for increasing milk production in cows. Theagency said that labeling will not be required for milk obtainedfrom BST-supplemented cows.

Clearance of the hormone comes seven months after FDA'sVeterinary Medicine Advisory Committee recommended itsapproval. In April, the panel agreed that BST significantlyincreases the incidence of mastitis in cows, but said thisbacterial inflammation of the teats was manageable.

The committee also said that BST residues in the milk wouldnot endanger milk drinkers. Monsanto (NYSE:MTC) of St. Louis,Mo., filed an application for the product in 1984.

BST is a protein hormone found naturally in milk that iscorrelated with milk production. Monsanto reproduces it withrecombinant technology for subcutaneous injection into dairycows to boost their milk output. Monsanto will market thesupplement under the trade name Posilac at a price that hasnot yet been set.

Monsanto said it will delay selling the product for 90 days dueto a provision in the federal budget reconciliation bill that callsfor a 90-day moratorium on milk with recombinant BST.

Activist Jeremy RifkinUs Pure Food Coalition said Friday that itwould immediately begin organizing a national boycott of alldairy and meat products derived from cows treated with BST.The group also plans a lawsuit challenging FDAUs decision.

BST was deemed safe by a National Institutes of Health panelin March 1991, and in 1992 the World Health Organization alsoconcluded it was safe.

However, the European Community (EC) Council of Ministershas a ban on the product through December. In 1992 theEuropean Community Commission issued a report stating thatincreased milk production might not be consistent with the EC'scommon agricultural policy and warned that it could lead to asharp downturn in consumption of milk products.

BST is currently sold commercially in several countries,including Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.