Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

"Hormone-fed beef benefits environment"

The use of growth promoting hormones in North American beef cows not only profits beef producers, it also benefits consumers and the environment. This is the remarkable conclusion of a new report by the Hudson Institute Center For Global Food Issues in the US.

Growth promoters – which are banned in the EU on food safety grounds - have been used in North American beef production for over 50 years. Despite the discussion whether or not use hormones in US beef, the report states that there are enormous environmental benefits to be gained from use of these products. Increased feed use efficiency, reduced land requirements, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions per pound of beef produced have all been conclusively demonstrated.

Less land needed
The report states that comparing conventional beef production to an alternative grass-based beef production system using an economic/production model created by scientists at Iowa State University shows that growth promoting hormones and ionophores decrease the land required to produce a pound of beef by two thirds, with fully one fifth of this gain resulting from growth enhancing pharmaceuticals. Whereas grass-based organic beef requires more than 5 acre-days to produce a pound of beef, less than 1.7 acre days are needed in a grain-fed feedlot system using growth promotants.

Less greenhouse gases
According to the report, grain feeding combined with growth promotants also results in a nearly 40% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) per pound of beef compared to grass feeding (excluding nitrous oxides), with growth promotants accounting for fully 25% of the emissions reductions.

Related website:
The full paper from CGFI 

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