Since Elanco acquired Posilac from Monsanto in 2008, it has made re-education about the dairy production technology a priority. The Indiana-based company has reached out to the entire dairy food chain to promote Posilac's safety and its role in affordability and sustainability, says Dennis Erpelding, director of corporate affairs for Elanco's international business division.
As part of the outreach, Elanco commissioned a safety assessment and consumer research report. The assessment reaffirmed that rBST is safe for human consumption. The consumer report showed that:
- milk is considered a staple of the American diet;
- people trust dairy products, and concerns over hormones are in the minority;
- consumers are more likely to base purchase decisions on taste, price, freshness and fat content.
When making purchase decisions, only 3.6% of those polled consider hormones as a factor versus the primary purchase factors of taste, price, freshness and fat content (24.9%). When prompted, respondents said they would likely be concerned about rBST, but they gave the same answer when asked about rJSP—a mythical protein.
"We've tried to work with all key stakeholders to ensure they have factual information about BST to disseminate,” Erpelding says.
Another Elanco goal is to help farmers improve their management practices with a technology that helps them to be more profitable. "We believe farmers should determine what's best or most appropriate for their oper-ations,” he says.
About one-third of U.S. dairy herds are supplemented with Posilac. The product, at about $6 per dose, yields about 10 lb. of additional milk per cow per day, according to Elanco. Erpelding would not give sales figures for Posilac, saying only that the product "is doing well.”
No stranger to Posilac, Elanco held exclusive sales rights outside the U.S. for a decade before acquiring it from Monsanto. Today, Elanco sells Posilac in 20 countries, including Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, he says.
BST is the manufactured form of a protein hormone that occurs naturally in cows. The technology was approved for commercial use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993.
Read Elanco's research findings on BST