The Role of Growth Technologies in Beef Production

Hormones, such as estrogen, occur naturally in nearly all plants and animals, including cattle and humans. Growth technologies transfer balanced hormones to beef cattle and allow producers to deliver leaner, more sustainable beef, using fewer resources, such as water and acres of grain and grass for feed. Growth technologies also allow producers to produce more beef from fewer head of cattle.

While growth technologies typically use naturally occurring hormones, such as estrogen and similar synthetic versions, the amount of estrogen used in beef production is far less than what is found naturally occurring in many other food sources.
Amount of Estrogen Found in Common Food Sources:
– Implanted beef: 1.9 nanograms
– Potatoes: 225 nanograms
– Peas: 340 nanograms
– Ice cream: 520 nanograms
– Cabbage: 2,000 nanograms
– Soy milk: 11,250 nanograms
– Soybean oil: 170,000 nanograms
*Based on a 3-ounce serving size

What is a growth technology?
Growth technologies have been used in agriculture for more than 50 years. These technologies – typically taking the form of a small pellet implanted under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear – release a small amount of a hormone and then safely dissolve to ensure the upmost safety to consumers. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a withdrawal period from the time an animal is implanted to when it can be harvested.

Food and Drug Administration; Hoffman and Evers; Scanga et al.; FSIS-USDA; Dr. Harlan Ritchie, Michigan State University
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association