|Production enhancers such as BST can reduce methane emissions by
one-third compared to organic.
A Cornell University study published by the National Academy of Sciences last summer turns conventional wisdom on its head: The study shows that milk produced using BST is far more friendly to the environment than milk produced organically.
The reason is basic biology. Milk produced using BST takes fewer resources than milk produced organically. And the numbers aren't even close.
To produce the same amount of milk, you need 33% fewer BST-treated cows than organic cows and 35% less land area than for organically raised crops. At the same time, the fewer cows will excrete 45% less nitrogen and 39% less phosphorus and reduce overall global warming potential with 19% fewer methane emissions.
"Anything that gives us an increase in milk yield—long-day lighting, cow comfort, Rumensin, reducing mastitis—will reduce dairy's carbon footprint,” says Jude Capper, lead author of the Cornell study.
As part of the study, Capper projected dairy production ahead to 2040 to 2050, when the U.S. population will reach 377 million people. To meet the 3-A-Day dairy requirements of that many people, she estimates it will take 6.58 million cows producing about 30,000 lb. of milk using conventional production methods.
If BST were used on all cows, 530,000 fewer cows would be needed. But if all that milk was produced organically, an additional 1.645 million cows would be needed.
Researchers that were involved in the Cornell study conclude: "Use of BST markedly improves the efficiency of milk production and mitigates environmental parameters including eutro-phication potential, acidification potential, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use.”