Synthetic Hormones and Accelerated Development

Synthetic hormones banned for agricultural use in the U.S. but legal in Puerto Rico have caused disturbingly accelerated development in young girls.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1983
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A child might only imagine beneficial consequences from accelerated development, but the reality is much more problematic.
Illustration by Fotolia/Malchev


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Several years ago, the U.S. government banned the use of diethylstilbestrol (DES) and other similar synthetic hormones that had been used to speed animal (and profit) growth in the livestock industry after questions arose over the long-term effects on humans who were eating meat produced with the chemicals. (Many readers may be aware of the controversy about the use of DES by pregnant women.) Oddly enough, however, DES use is still allowed in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where it turns chickens and cattle into living "fast food." Doctors there report that children raised on the DES-laced meat and milk are beginning to show unnaturally accelerated development. Physicians note some six-year-old girls have grown breasts and some seven-year-olds have begun menstruating. As news of these disorders spread through the Commonwealth, the consumption of milk dropped 5.5%, and poultry sales plummeted 30%.







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