Part 2 | rbST: Friend or Foe
When we look at the use of Lactatropin and the way it works in a cow's body, it is evident that nutrient utilisation increases a cow's efficiency and decreases its environmental impact.
Environmental effects of rbST
The dairy industry has always been criticized for the high carbon footprint that cows produce, due to the high production performance of modern dairy cows. Since 1944, the dairy sector has implemented many methods of decreasing its carbon footprint and the result has been a decrease of almost two thirds.
Farming has developed considerably over the years and the technology used by farmers has kept pace. By using Lactatropin, we can reduce the carbon footprint of the dairy industry even more. When a cow is more efficient, she will use less feed to produce a litre of milk. This means that for every litre of milk produced, less fertiliser and less land are needed and therefore less soil erosion occurs. The amount of methane produced from greenhouse gases, animal manure, and waste is also reduced by the use of Lactatropin.
DE Bauman states that recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) allows increased production of up to 4,5 kg of extra milk per day, with a net carbon footprint reduction of 3,7 litres of milk. In other words, supplementing 50% of the dairy herds (±275,000 cows) in South Africa with rbST equals the removal of 110,000 cars from the road each year or the planting of 82.5 million trees.
With higher production per cow, we can decrease the number of cows in the herd and still maintain the same levels of total milk yield. By reducing feed and land requirements, we decrease the amount of fossil fuel and electricity required to produce milk. And so,
we come to our next question…
How does rbST impact sustainability?
As you know, we need to increase milk production for the growing population. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, we will need 100% more food by 2050 of which 70% will have to be produced through the use of technology.
Since 1944, the amount of resources needed to produce 3,7 litres has decreased while milk production has increased. With the use of modern technology, we have managed to reduce water usage by 65%, land usage by 90%, manure production by 76%, and the carbon footprint by 63% for every 3,7 litres of milk produced. However, we need to improve even more. Dr Jason Clay from the World Wildlife Fund says, “We must use less to produce more from less.”
Recombinant bovine somatotropin has been on the market for 30 years and can be grouped with other production-enhancing technologies such as artificial insemination, genetics, feed analysis, feed formulations, milking systems, and medicines. Lactatropin is used as a management tool to help increase milk production per cow and reduce the
carbon footprint, thereby improving the sustainability of the dairy industry.
Bauman, D. 2015. Facts about recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST). https://en.engormix.com/dairy-cattle/articles/facts-about-recombinant-bovine-t36444.htm Date of Access: 16 Mar. 2022
Capper, J.L., Castañeda-Gutiérrez, E., Cady, R.A., and Bauman, D.E., 2008. The environmental impact of recombinant bovine somatropin (rbST) use in dairy production. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0802446105 Date of acces: 18 November 2020
Simmons, J., 2011. Technology’s role in the 21st century: Making safe, affordable, and abundant food a global reality. Elanco Animal Health AI11224 (05/11).
Enquiries about rbST or Lactatropin: Please contact Frances Roos on 021 932 2019 or email@example.com.