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E. A Dual-Edged Hormone

Narrator: This is Science Today. Since 1994, dairy farmers have been offered a new technology called bovine growth hormone -- a genetically engineered hormone that makes cows produce more milk. Agriculture expert Bill Liebhardt of the University of California, Davis says that even though it's government-approved, the new substance hasn't exactly gotten rave reviews among farming communities.

Liebhardt: With farmers, the opposition comes I think because there already is a surplus of milk, and so you could question whether you need some production-enhancing technology at a time when you've already got a surplus.

Narrator: The result might be to lower the price of milk and drive small farms out of business. Then there's the cost to the environment. Cows in a pasture live on what's called forage -- grasses, clover and alfalfa. But if they're forced to produce more milk, farmers will be forced to supplement their diet with grain.

Liebhardt: If you move in this direction, what happens is instead of having more forage you end up with more grain, which then increases the amount of fertilizers and pesticides and energy use on farms to feed that extra grain.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.