He defended Michael Vick’s dogfighting. He followed environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. across the country to bash his anti-factory farm speeches. He went undercover to spy on animal rights group Farm Sanctuary.
Now radio show host Trent Loos, whose audience includes people who believe, among other things, that the Endangered Species Act is a government conspiracy to run ranchers off their land, is a member of Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee.
And he’s got Trump’s ear.
In recent decades, under pressure from consumers, environmentalists and animal welfare activists, Big Ag has sought to project a “kinder, gentler image” that includes taking animal welfare and food safety seriously.
Not so with Loos.
Loos might be the only agricultural voice in America willing to publicly defend horse slaughter, antibiotics in chicken production and the GMO recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) used in milk.
After all this is the guy who, when Vick was arrested for operating an interstate dog-fighting ring that included abuse, torture and execution of under-performing dogs, complained that the football player was “charged with the crime of letting a dog be a dog” and “not treating his dog like a kid.”
So we shouldn’t be surprised that Loos defends something like rBGH, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, over the widespread objections of farmers, public health advocates and animal welfare agencies. Developed by Monsanto and sold in 2008 to Elanco, a division of the Eli Lilly drug company, rBGH is given to cows to make them produce more milk. The FDA approved commercialization of the hormone, even though the agency acknowledged that use of rBGH on dairy cows increased the rates of 16 harmful physical effects on the animals.
Thankfully, rBGH has largely been phased out because of strong consumer backlash and questions over one of its byproducts found in milk––insulin-like growth factor-1 or IGF-1. Harvard researchers found that men with elevated IGF-1 have more than four times the risk of prostate cancer and premenopausal women with elevated IGF-1 have seven times the risk of breast cancer.
Loos doesn’t buy it. Here’s what he wrote on a pro-rBGH website:
IGF-1 is [a] naturally occurring human hormone commonly measured in our saliva,” he “Every person who has ever been diagnosed with cancer has also had saliva. Does that mean that saliva causes cancer? NO. Furthermore, if parents are worried about the impact of milk consumption on their kids, are they keeping the kids locked away from the sun? Malignant melanoma [is] the most serious form of skin cancer.
Loos also uses his “two wrongs make a right” argument in defending hormones used in meat production. Here’s what he wrote in his “Loos Tales” column:
Hormone levels in beef and milk are actually considerably lower than some plant-based food sources, yet consumers don’t seem at all concerned about that. Take, for example, a tablespoon of soybean oil, which contains 28,000 ng of estrogen. Four ounces of raw cabbage has 2,700 ng of estrogen, and four ounces of raw peas have 454 ng of estrogen.”
The hormone-raised U.S. cattle Loos defends are treated with melengestrol acetate, a synthetic progestin 30 times as active as natural progesterone, and trenbolone acetate, a synthetic androgen several times more active than testosterone, zeranol and the steroid oestradiol-17.
Zeranol is known for its “ability to stimulate growth and proliferation of human breast tumor cells” like the “known carcinogen diethylstilbestrol (DES),” says the Breast Cancer Fund, a group dedicated to identifying and eliminating environmental causes of breast cancer. Zeranol may “play a critical role in mammary tumorigenesis” and may “be a risk factor for breast cancer,” according to a study from the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University in Beijing.
Certainly Loos realizes that the European Commission (EC) does not ban “raw peas” or “cabbage” but it does ban hormone-treated U.S beef because of the well-known cancer risks. According to the EC’s Committee on Veterinary Measures report, “The highest rates of breast cancer are observed in North America, where hormone-treated meat consumption is highest in the world.”
In explaining its shunning of hormone-treated U.S. beef the EC report observes that Kwang Hwa, Korea has only seven new cases of breast cancer per 100,000 people whereas non-Hispanic Caucasians in Los Angeles have 103 new cases per 100,000 people. The breast cancer rate also increases among immigrant groups when they move to the U.S., says the report, suggesting causes are not genetic but environmental.
Watch for new trade wars as the U.S. tries, once again, to get the EU to accept hormone-treated beef.
Trump is often accused of surrounding himself with climate deniers. With Trent Loos on his Agriculture Advisory Committee, Trump has added a food safety denier to the list.