Stilbosol patenting turned the cattle feed industry upside down in the mid fifties with its phenomenal use by the farmers and feeders

image of Stilbosol-Wise-Burroughs
Wise Burroughs – image credit Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

… ” One of the most important and far-reaching events in the department in the early 1950s was the patenting of defined levels of diethylstilbestrol (DES), a growth-promoting hormone, to feed beef cattle for improved growth and efficiency.

The saga includes how Wise Burroughs found that quality clover hay contained estrogens that enhanced growth, and how he, by studying the literature on DES, determined the levels to produce the desired effects, but not the negative ones. The work with the Iowa State College Research Foundation to secure the patent, the feud with colleagues at Ames and Purdue, the announcement at Cattle Feeder’s Day in 1954 that turned the feed industry upside down, the struggle to secure FDA approval, the involvement of President Hilton in the licensing done with Lilly, and the phenomenal use of Stilbosol by the feeders make a story worthy of the book about it by A.I. Marcus in 1994. The events changed the way new technology was utilized and controlled by the Food and Drug Adminstration. Eventually DES was banned in 1979. A portion of the proceeds from the patent built Lush Auditorium, and the use of DES enhanced the profitability of cattle feeding. ” …

Sources and more information
  • Elanco history,
  • Modern Meat: Synthetic Hormones, Livestock, and Consumers in the Post-WWII Era,
  • History of diethylstilbestrol use in cattle,, 2002.
  • History of Animal Science Department,, 2000.
  • History of Hormonal Modifier Use,, 1997.
Related books
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Have your say! Share your views