What Is the Difference Between Organic Milk & Milk With No Hormones?

Essential nutrients in fortified milk include protein, which helps maintain your muscles and immune system, calcium and vitamin D, which strengthen your bones, and potassium, which regulates your blood pressure. However, many individuals are concerned about the potential for milk to contain harmful chemicals used for raising dairy cows. Organic milk and milk with no hormones are possible alternatives to regular milk if you want to avoid synthetic chemicals.

Close-up of milk splashing as it is poured.
Credit: Gunnar Pippel/Hemera/Getty Images

Bovine Growth Hormone

Bovine growth hormone, or BGH, is another term for bovine somatotropin, or BST. This growth hormone comes from the pituitary gland of cows, and it has a similar function and structure to growth hormones in other species of mammals. Bovine growth hormone is essential for cow growth and development. BGH from cows gets into their milk, and all milk, including organic milk and milk with no added hormones, contains some BGH, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Synthetic Growth Hormones

Cows may produce more milk when they are injected with extra amounts of BGH, according to Iowa State University. The BGH used for treatment is a synthetic chemical called recombinant BGH, or rBGH, developed by Monsanto, a company based in Missouri. In 1993 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of rBGH, or rBST, in dairy cows. Organic milk and milk with no added hormones come from cows that are not treated with rBGH.

National Organic Program

The National Organic Program for foods includes a set of standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To be certified as USDA-organic as part of the National Organic Program, milk must be free from hormones and meet additional criteria. Organic milk and other organic foods are all-natural, which means that they do not contain synthetic additives such as colors or flavoring agents. Organic products must be produced without hormones. Milk that has no hormones but is not part of the National Organic Program may not meet the additional requirements.


The label of organic milk may display an official USDA-organic seal. When you see milk and other food products with this label, you know that they are free from added hormones, and they meet the other requirements for organic foods. Milk with no added hormones also comes from cows that have not been treated with rBST. BGH is not known to cause harmful effects to humans, according to Iowa State University. Organic foods do not necessarily have a higher amount of nutrients than other foods.

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