“A 1988 FDA survey of milk samples from grocery stores in 10 cities found that 73% of the samples contained pesticide residues.”
Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 1991; 47
The Organic Center points us to 2004 testing of 739 samples of conventional milk, performed by the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program. Here’s what they found.
- Ninety-six percent of samples contained DDE, “a breakdown product of DDT, which was banned from agricultural use in the early 1970s. DDT is very persistent and remains to this day in many cropland soils; its soil half-life (time required for 50 percent to dissipate) is generally between 15 and 30 years, depending on soil and climatic properties.”
- Nearly 99 percent contained diphenylamine (DPA), a “‘high volume’ industrial chemical used for many purposes in manufacturing rubber and plastic parts, and in making certain drugs.”
- Forty-one percent of samples contained dieldrin, a “long-banned” organochlorine pesticide.
- Endosulfan sulfate, an endocrine disrupter, turned up in 18 percent of samples.
- About a quarter of samples delivered synthetic pyrethroid insecticides.
- Nearly 9 percent of samples contained a lovely-sounding chemical called 3-hydroxycarbofuran, a “highly-toxic breakdown product of the carbamate insecticide.”
The USDA didn’t comprehensively test conventional against organic milk. However, 10 of the 739 samples were labeled organic — and “just like virtually all samples, all 10 samples contained DPA and nine had DDE residues,” the Organic Center reports.
Clearly, that bit needs more study — 10 samples can tell us little. I’d like to see studies that differentiate between varieties of organic ag — pasture-based systems and the confined style favored by mega-organic dairies like Aurora and Horizon.
But the presence of all of this industrial crap in our milk supply is surely alarming. As the Organic Center states:
The fact that over one-quarter of the conventional milk samples tested in 2004 contained endosulfan or a carbofuran metabolite is deeply worrisome, given that these chemicals are among the pesticides found in numerous toxicological studies to pose serious developmental risks during pregnancy and to infants and children as their bodies grow and mature.
I like how all of this information has been sitting around since 2004, not going much of anywhere even as the USDA pushes milk as a healthy dietary staple, even — if not especially — for pregnant women and children, the very folks most vulnerable to pesticides.
“In India, a seven year study of pesticide residue in milk in 12 Indian states has attracted considerable public concern. Over 50% of India’s population are vegetarians who consider milk an important part of their diet…Dr. G.S. Totefa, who summed up the report, pointed out that of the 2,205 samples of bovine milk, 85% of the samples contained levels of HCH isomers above the tolerance limits…the level of pesticides in milk is intolerable and dangerous to human health, and that the government has been generally apathetic — particularly regarding research and development into alternatives to dangerous pesticides.”
Pesticide News, October, 1994
“In 1987, a multidisciplinary dairy project was initiated at the Mahoning County Farm in Canfield, Ohio…Residue determinations during the first year of study clearly pointed out that these soil residues from DDT represented a source of pesticides which would contaminate livestock…. grass was suspected to be a carrier medium for the residues from the soil to the cows.”
OARDC Research Bulletin 1190, 1987
“The pesticides chlordane and heptachlor cause cancer, harm the immune system and may be endocrine disruptors…their long half-lives ensure they remain biologically active for decades…many of the dairy cattle in Oahu were accidentally fed pineapple leaves containing heptachlor residues. As a result, the local milk and dairy supply remained contaminated for years. Between 1981 and 1984, the legal standard for heptachlor residues in food (0.3 ppm) was exceeded ten-fold in milk and dairy products…Follow-up investigations found that the breast milk of women who had consumed local dairy products contained heptachlor at levels averaging 200 ppm — some cases exceeded 400 ppm…breast cancer incidence among Japanese women in Hawaii increased 42% between 1970 and 1985.”
Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 105, Supplement 3, April 1997
“Indeed, the largest contributors to daily intake of chlorinated insecticides are dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry.”
Living Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.
“Atrazine is used primarily as a weed killer in the production of feed corn. This highly toxic herbicide has been linked to many kinds of cancer, including cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus, and testicles, as well as leukemia and lymphoma… European countries, including Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands, do not allow the herbicide to be used within their borders. According to farming averages and data supplied by the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Ben & Jerry’s farmers now use thousands of pounds of carcinogenic atrazine every year.”
Food and Water Journal, Summer, 1998
“Dioxins are highly toxic by-products of many industrial processes e.g. chemical and municipal waste incineration or production of chlorophenols. These compounds penetrate the environment via air, water and soil and are then incorporated in food chains. The major source of human exposure (90% of total exposition) is consumption of a wide variety of common foods (meat, fish and dairy products) containing small amounts of dioxins. Food contamination with dioxins leads to enhanced accumulation of these compounds in human tissues to the extent of exceeding acceptable level.”
(Polish Journal) Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig, 1999, 50:3
“Dioxins are the most deadly substances ever assembled by man… 170,000 times as deadly as cyanide…”
United Press International. March 11, 1983.
“The level of dioxin in a single serving of the Ben & Jerry’s World’s Best Vanilla Ice Cream tested was almost 200 times greater than the “virtually safe [daily] dose” determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Steve Milloy, author of junkscience.com (Milloy tested samples of ice cream for dioxins. The only major newspaper to report the story was the Detroit Free Press). 11/8/99
“The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all.”
Ben & Jerry’s promotional literature
“The majority of toxic dioxin is and (or) has been derived from industrial chlorination processes, incineration of municipal waste, and production of certain herbicides. The lipophilic nature of dioxins results in higher concentrations in the fat of animal and fish products, and their excretion via milk secretion in dairy cattle may result in relatively high concentrations of dioxin contamination in high-fat dairy products.”
Journal of Animal Science, 1998 Jan, 76:1
“The primary source of dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and coplanar PCBs for the general population is food, especially meat, fish, and dairy products.”
Chemosphere, 1998 Oct, 37:9