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How Dangerous Is Raw Milk vs. Common Pharmaceuticals, Obesity, Auto Travel?

Our politicians and policy makers are amazingly adept at creating scapegoats so as to avoid dealing with real problems that might affect entrenched interests. The ongoing Wisconsin protests are a case in point. The governor, Scott Walker, has made public workers the scapegoats in the state’s budget crisis, and is using them as an excuse to eliminate key union bargaining rights. The real problem in Wisconsin is much the same as the national debt challenge: we have become addicted to spending more than we take in, and aren’t willing to accept the idea that we need broad sacrifices across the board to even begin to think about getting back on track. The entrenched interests, be they governors who hand out patronage jobs or corporations benefiting from regulatory favoritism, aren’t willing to make sacrifices. I’m not especially enamored of the public employees in Wisconsin. Remember, they include bureaucrats with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, who have been going after dairy farmers with a vengeance during the last couple of years. I wouldn’t mind seeing their budgets cut so far back that many of them would have to find real jobs. But I dislike even more the scapegoating that is driving the Wisconsin budgetary situation. It’s a situation not unlike what we face with the regulation of raw dairy. We see the regulators jump on any indication of illness, while sanctioning huge numbers of illnesses and deaths from prescription drugs and all kinds of lifestyle problems. That’s been a frequent theme in comments on this blog, and now at long last, the discrepancies are being pointed out to the federal judge in Iowa hearing the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and its Food and Drug Administration. According to Gary Cox, the lawyer for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the judge in the case last September ordered that “the parties were to file status reports each month.  Our strategy was to file with the court reports that contained evidence of how irrational 1240.61 [ban on interstate shipment of raw milk] is.” The two most recent reports pick up on arguments made frequently by raw milk advocates here that raw milk, comparatively speaking, isn’t much of a public health problem. The report for January included announcements from pharmaceutical companies about side effects for nine different commonly prescribed drugs; for example, that Ambien and Ambien CR “may cause a special type of memory loss…dependence…withdrawal….hallucinations, worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts.” Symbicort, a drug for people with bronchitis and emphysema, “may increase the chance of death from asthma problems.” Concluded the FTCLDF filing: “These are all drugs that are approved by the FDA. It is irrational for the FDA to ban the interstate shipment or distribution of raw milk that does not have any of these symptoms or side effects yet allow these drugs to be sold in interstate commerce given the dangers they present.” The report for February cites 2005 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which report deaths from various public health problems. For example…4,649 deaths from obesity, 684 from sleep disorders, and 4,596 from motor vehicle deaths, among many others. “Counsel for Plaintiffs could not find in these data any deaths associated with the consumption of fresh, unprocessed, raw milk and/or other raw dairy products.” The filing also quotes Ted Beals, the Michigan pathologist, as saying “it is more of a risk for him to drive his car and obtain his milk than it is for him to consume his milk.” The FTCLDF filed its suit about a year ago. In a response in April, the FDA issued its now-famous declaration that Americans “have no absolute right…to any particular food.” I would guess the latest FTCLDF reports aren’t the run-of-the-mill legal reports the judge is accustomed to seeing. Continue reading this post at The Complete Patient.
rawmilkrevolution David E. Gumpert is the author of The Raw Milk Revolution.

Can RAWMI Be Saved? Activists Petition Fledgling Group for Clarification on Standards, Legislative Action; McAfee Promises to “Repair and Fix” Problems; Schmidt on Rights

The fledgling Raw Milk Institute is in trouble. The grandiose plan for a national organization that will at once establish raw milk production standards, educate farmers on improving their safety protocols, lobby for raw milk legislative expansion, and back research into raw milk’s benefits finds itself hobbled by internal dissension out of the gate. I […] Read More..

We’d All Like the Perfect Martyrs to Go Out and Protest For, But Life Isn’t Always That Cooperative When You Are Fighting Government Thuggery; Pollan on Raw Milk

It sure would be nice if the emerging food rights movement could always pick its spots to protest government brutality and criminality against farmers and food clubs. Note, I am choosing my words carefully here. Yes, when government agents from ten or more agencies steal hundreds of pounds, thousands of dollars, worth of food–not once, […] Read More..

Family (farm) affair: my connection to Eliot Coleman’s rise to prominence

I’m not sure exactly what it means to play a cameo role in a family memoir exploring the roots of today’s food movement; but certainly it makes you keenly aware of how quickly the years are piling up. I’m referring to the tale of my brief, but apparently significant, role in helping launch organic farmer […] Read More..

Three Reasons Why Raw Milk Safety Still Deserves to Be High Priority; DC Demonstration Monday for Amish Farmer

It’s not a great time to be trying to convince raw milk advocates–farmers and consumers alike–about the importance of a heightened emphasis on safety. Not at a time when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which frequently argues that raw milk can’t be produced safely in any event, is doing undercover investigations poking around in […] Read More..

FDA agents launch covert ops against D.C.-area raw-milk buying club

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just filed a complaint in federal court, seeking a permanent injunction against Amish farmer Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania. It accuses him of violating a federal prohibition on interstate sales of raw milk by shipping unpasteurized milk to a Maryland buying club’s members. As part of its complaint, the […] Read More..