This Toronto Star editorial titled “The Raw Milk Debate“, is the first sign of “blow-back” from yesterday’s decision to acquit farmer Michael Schmidt on raw milk charges. According to litigation director Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, the Crown would have 30 days to file an appeal of yesterday’s verdict:
“Yesterday’s court decision allowing Michael Schmidt to continue his raw milk cooperative is already being touted as a victory for everything from family farms to the constitutional rights of both consumers and producers.
But in his ruling, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky did not actually deal with Schmidt’s contention that mandatory pasteurization laws violate his constitutional rights. Rather, Kowarsky simply found that Schmidt’s cow-share model – where people buy a portion of the cow, rather than pay directly for the milk – does not violate our health and milk regulations. (In Ontario, it is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk but legal to drink it, and farmers often do.)
This decision is not going to be the last word on raw milk, however. Schmidt has already said he wants to “move into a dialogue where even more people can enjoy raw milk.” That’s exactly the sort of slippery slope that health officials want to avoid.
Schmidt and his supporters have worked hard to frame this issue as one of rights – that is, the right to choose what to consume. But raw milk is also a health issue, and the experts say that drinking untreated milk puts consumers at increased risk of exposure to harmful pathogens, including listeria, salmonella and E. coli.
The raw milk issue is too important to leave with a lower court. The government should appeal this decision and let a higher court decide.”