From a cattleman’s perspective, I would like to add to your timely article that besides the benefits that would come to the environment from stopping the use of pharmaceutical growth promoters in cattle, we would also have a more tender product to market. An under-reported side effect of the use of growth stimulants is about a 25 percent increase in toughness of the meat. If the beef industry would eliminate growth-enhancing drugs, our market would expand. Many producers have calculated, as I have, that this increased demand for beef would more than make up economically for less weight gain by untreated cattle.

David Sheegog
Paoli, Okla.

The last sentence of the article’s sidebar, “The financial lure of hormones,” says that “regulators haven’t considered what effects the hormones might have after being excreted into the environment.” That is simply not true. The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to consider the potential environmental impacts associated with the approval of all new animal drugs. All six of the hormonal drugs approved for growth promotion in beef have up-to-date environmental assessments. In accordance with NEPA, CVM has issued for all six hormones a formal “Finding of No Significant Impact.” Our members are committed to providing animal drugs that are safe and effective. This commitment includes safety to the environment.

Richard A. Carnevale
Animal Health Institute
Washington, D.C.

Regarding the cover photo and caption for the article, would it not be more accurate to show the CEO of an agribusiness and identify him or her as the polluter? Steer #1225 is surely not to blame for what is done to him.

Alice Westphal
Evanston, Ill.

I wanted to express my thanks for the recent coverage that Science News gave to environmental estrogens. Unfortunately, I was acknowledged for another student’s work. The research conducted at Clemson University on the effects of bovine estrogens on juvenile sunfish was actually conducted by Jacki M. Brynda. My studies involved analyzing cattle runoff for estrogens and the effects on nearby turtle populations.

Lisa K. Irwin
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Conway, Ark.