Summing Up the Arguments for Raw Milk from this Past Week in Court

Here’s a quick summary of some of the key arguments regarding the safety of raw milk, presented in court on behalf of the appellants over the past week, compiled by Raoul Bedi. Of course the case itself was not primarily about raw milk safety but rather about the rights of people to access a food of their choice, and much of the discussion in court was around various ways to look at that as well. But all the discussion about food safety can be seen as underlining the argument that a choice to drink raw milk is not such a reckless choice as has sometimes been portrayed by established “experts” in the field. So with that preamble, here is Raoul’s summary:

“1. There are numerous benefits to organic properly produced raw milk (to the highest standards of hygiene and animal husbandry)

2. The risks can and are mitigated, again with proper systems in place for health of the animal and hygiene of the farm and cold chain management

3. The risks are “De MINIMIS” (negligible) again when compared to other foods like (lettuce, turkey, oysters, chicken or eggs) and when compared to the rest of the world where 99% of the countries already allow and regulate safe raw milk for production, sale and distribution.

4. The arguments of the Ontario government, municipality of York Region, Federal government and DFO/ DFC consistently rely on old research from between 11 and 80 years and have not evolved along with the rest of the world.

They are especially deficient in the advancing field of QMRA risk analysis of which only Expert Peggy Coleman has training and was able to provide coherent evidence, affidavits explanation on.

Contrast that with the Ontario Government’s lead expert Professor Manfred Griffiths who was proven by lawyer Ian Blue (representing the appellants) to have recycled over 90% of his same affidavits verbatim from the Ontario Raw Milk Trial in 2009. So much for keeping up with times!

I would add they are absent any mention of the importance of rapid testing technology called BAX PCR RT that RAWMI trained farmers are now able to use to test all their cows onsite and within a few hours every single day, thus negating the need for expensive weekly visits of veterinarians as in the German Verzug milch system.”

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Raw Milk Charter Challenge Coverage in the Epoch Times

It will be interesting to see whether this story gets any ink in more mainstream media. Since the story first broke in the early 90s, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, The National Post, Toronto Life, CBC-TV, CTV and Global News have published a lot of stories exploring various aspects of the issues around raw milk and even running public polls in an attempt to gauge public support for legalization. One wonders what might have changed in how this issue is seen by the media. Well, at least the Epoch Times recognizes this as a significant story. Court proceedings continue today, Friday Nov. 20th starting at 10 am. Watch here on youtube live.

“This week (Nov. 17-20, 2020), proponents of raw milk legalization are duking it out with provincial and federal governments in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, under the eye of Madam Justice Shaun O’Brien.This time, the raw milk advocates have marshalled an impressive amount of scientific evidence, much of it produced within the past decade. Most of it can be read in this 700-page Application Record. The cross-examinations of the government’s experts showed that they were embarrassingly unaware of recent developments in this field.Even though raw milk can’t be sold, it can be legally consumed if you or your family own a cow. Surveys have shown that about 2 percent of Ontario residents drink raw milk. Some live on farms; others buy it on the black market. The government warns consumers that raw milk might harbour nasty germs—and indeed it might.Statistically, however, the risks pale in comparison with the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and even deaths (approximately 238 per year, the federal government says) caused by foods such as meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. All of these can be legally purchased in thousands of outlets across the country. When an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs among these products, suspect batches are temporarily withdrawn from the market. For example, so far in 2020, there have been 25 food recalls for salmonella and 2 for listeria in products ranging from eggs to parsley to alfalfa sprouts to herring, but nobody would ever dream of outlawing these foods permanently….”…

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Going into Day 4 of Court Proceedings

While the Court has been very careful to recalibrate the testimony of expert witnesses who were seen to have strong personal pro-raw-milk views, it will be interesting to see whether they will similarly recalibrate the weight they give to the testimony of experts who have strong personal anti-raw-milk views. David Gumpert’s report on the proceedings so far, suggests that John Sheehan of the US FDA may be just such a person.

Links for Thursday and Friday:

Thursday, November 19, 2020:

Friday, November 20, 2020:

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Going into Day Two of Court Hearings

David Gumpert of The Complete Patient blog has posted coverage of the start of the court hearing yesterday. Here’s a excerpt from his post:

“Three years ago, it appeared as if Schmidt was at a dead end legally, when he was threatened with extended jail time following legal setbacks in his long crusade to legalize raw milk sales in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. But he was convinced by supporters and legal experts that he should pursue a new path to legalization—one that involved seeking an exemption to the raw milk ban based on newly published scientific evidence about raw milk’s benefits, and also on the legal argument that Canadians have the right  under the Canadian Charter to consume raw milk as a matter of conscience if they believe it is essential to maintaining good health.

Ironically, Schmidt is not technically part of this latest legal push—it is being pursued by his wife, Elisa Vander Hout, along with the owner of a second Ontario dairy and a group of some 20 long-time raw milk drinkers. But in a Facebook post Monday, Schmidt stated: “There are 21 people who are challenging the law prohibiting the distribution of raw milk. They firmly believe that this law is discriminatory and goes against the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Please understand that this case is not only of the essence to milk-drinkers, but to anyone who wants to be free to make their own (informed) choices about what to eat, drink and inject into their own bodies.”…”

Read the whole story on David Gumpert’s The Complete Patient blog.

Links to Youtube live feeds for all five days of the court proceedings.

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Raw Milk is Back in Court This Week

After no news for so long, this week there is a constitutional challenge being heard in court on behalf of a group of people who are concerned about getting legal access to raw milk. Court proceedings are being streamed live. Here are the links:

Live streaming links:

Monday, November 16, 2020:

Tuesday, November 17, 2020:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020:

Thursday, November 19, 2020:

Friday, November 20, 2020:

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Leading Canadian Raw Milk Advocate stands his ground with “Agri-Culture”

Convicted farmer Michael Schmidt announces 2018 festival and plans for new arts centre hub

(Durham, ON): Farmer, advocate and conductor Michael Schmidt has been at the forefront of the national battle for the legal sale of raw milk in Canada for over twenty-four years.

In Schmidt’s recent November 2017 court case he was sentenced to fifteen weekends in maximum security at the Penetanguishene Prison for obstructing a peace officer during a raid on his farm. Currently out on appeal, his sentencing was swiftly followed by a permanent injunction issued by Justice P.W. Sutherland in a January 2018 court hearing in Newmarket, Ontario, which restrains any further raw milk production without licenses.

While the battle is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, Schmidt continues to find new means to stand his ground, this time with his new Centre for Performance and AgriCulture. Continue reading

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Ten Years After the Melamine Milk Scandal in China, Parents Still Don’t Trust Local Baby Formula


“The fear is so deep-rooted that it goes beyond milk powder—food rumors about things such as plastic seaweed and seedless grapes cultivated with birth control medicines frequently send consumers into a tailspin.

There are at least three reasons for the failure to restore people’s confidence in domestic food, notes Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York.

 “It’s very hard to have a strong sense of optimism.” 

One is the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the 1980s (pdf, p.3), which has contaminated farmland, and could be transferred to cows that eat that grass. The government has only just started to tackle the problem, Huang said in an interview with Quartz. China also has a top-down regulatory method, which makes it hard for the public to engage with the process, particularly given the lack of press freedom, he says. There is also a general perception of a “moral decline” in China, where people try to make money by whatever means it takes, Huang adds, noting that sometimes even farmers themselves don’t eat what they grow (link in Chinese) for the market….”

Get the full story on Quartz (

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Organic Milk is Front-Page News in the Star | Symphony in the Barn 2018 at Glencolton Farms August 3rd to 5th

On Saturday July 7th, 2018, the Toronto Star published a front page story slamming organic milk, claiming that scientific test show it to be no different from regular milk and implying that those who buy it are fools for paying more money for a nutritionally equivalent product. From that story, by investigative reporter Michele Henry:

“While Canada’s organic dairy farmers do some things differently than their conventional colleagues – like sending their cows to pasture and using only chemicals that are considered natural – it’s not reflected in the end product.

“The milks are the same – they are identical with respect to the testing and quality standards. There’s no added hormones. No antibiotics,” says Graham Lloyd, of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the quasi-governmental organization that controls the organic and regular milk supply….”

Yesterday, on July 14th, the Star published a collection of letters to the editor responding to last week’s story on organic milk vs regular milk. Here are excerpts from a couple of them:

Nancy Moysiuk, from Etobicoke writes: “Your comments that organic milk is no different than conventional milk is the same argument the agricultural industry states to deride organic produce. Maybe the tests being used are not the right ones to detect subtle differences…”

Mathilde Andres of Harmony Organic Dairy writes: “Our heifers are older when they calve, our cows do not have a calf every year… and most importantly we do not feed for high milk production. Our objective is healthy, long-living cows. The higher price for organic milk is due to a well-deserved premium to the farmer to help with higher production costs, for example organic feed (which means GMO-free and grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and is three times more expensive to buy….”

Symphony in the Barn 2018

Meanwhile Glencolton Farms is planning another Symphony in the Barn musical event on August 3 to 5, 2018.

Glencolton Farms is now selling organic meat, bread and baking on Saturday mornings along the rainbow wall, at the (year-round) Village Market, located in the Toronto Waldorf School at 9100 Bathurst St. While bridge construction is underway over the summer, you can access the Market from Bathurst Glen Drive, just a little west of Bathurst.

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Stay of Injunction against raw milk was NOT granted | Financial Post story

It was announced today to OFOF farmshare members and Glencolton Farms supporters, via email, by the group’s lawyers, that: 

“…the stay of the injunctive orders of Sutherland J. was not granted. We did, however, get the requested stay, or adjournment of the appeal. In short, Nordheimer J. agreed that there was a serious issue to be determined with the Charter Application, and we take that as encouraging. However, he disagreed that the harm amounted to being irreparable, as he characterized it being the appellants decision not to re-purpose the cows for producing milk in a legal way. Further, he stated that the harm could be quantified as damages. On the balance of convenience, he favoured obeying the law until such a law is declared unconstitutional, or in our case, until exemptions are granted….”

In other raw milk news, Michael Schmidt’s former lawyer, Karen Selick, has written a story on the now-criminal status of raw milk in Ontario titled “You can now go to prison in Canada for providing raw milk. Seriously!”. Here’s a brief excerpt from that story: 

“As Canada ambles along towards the day when its prisons will empty of people who did nothing more heinous than possess marijuana, the province of Ontario appears eager to fill its empty jail cells with individuals whose so-called crime was distributing raw milk.

On Jan. 5, 2018, Justice P. W. Sutherland of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice imposed an injunction in a case called Downing v. ARC. Downing is the provincial Milk Act Director, while ARC is an incorporated farm co-op that allegedly was distributing raw milk, but has now closed down its milk operation. In essence, the decision transformed an action that was previously a provincial regulatory offence punishable only by fines — distributing raw milk — into a federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison.”

Read more on the Financial Post.

Meanwhile farmshare members and friends of legal raw milk in Ontario are raising funds for the appeal and constitutional challenge through a crowdfunding campaign at:

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After Court Today, a Decision Will Be Rendered Sometime Next Week

This morning, both sides made their arguments at the Ontario court of appeal as to whether or not the raw milk injunction should be stayed while our constitutional application is moving along.The judge reserved his decision; our lawyers say we might not receive the decision Monday, but they do expect it sometime next week.
I want to express gratitude to each and every person who came out to the hearing this morning; I think we somehow got to the exact right number (we must have been about 40, maybe more, including several people I spoke to from other cow-share communities). The room was full even after the clerks brought in extra chairs, and while unfortunately a few people could not get into the room, it meant that every time someone left, another took their place. Maybe our presence officially made no difference, but NOT having the room completely full of supporters to witness the process would surely have sent the wrong message that maybe it wasn’t so important to us.
If you haven’t been following the crowdfunding campaign, take a look:
And please, please share it widely across social media. The online campaign is just one part of the fundraising picture – individual community members have been generous with legal donations through FarmMatch, cheques and e-transfers – but it’s our primary way of mobilizing support beyond our direct cow-share communities.

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