Marler Clark reviews developments in recent raw milk controversy in Ontario

Bill Marler, of the legal firm Marler Clark, has been involved in a number of high profile litigations involving raw milk damage claims in the U.S., notably with Organic Pastures in California.

American lawyer Bill Marler plays a role in the raw milk movement, as a vocal opponent, but one who follows the news and has often been willing to enter into dialog on the issues.

Marler Clark, through their several internet blogs, have published numerous stories following developments in the raw milk movement stateside and commenting on the safety issues involving raw milk generally. Here’s an excerpt from a recent story by Kristeva Dowling on the Ontario raw milk situation, with Michael Schmidt:

“Ontario made pasteurization of milk mandatory in 1938, but Health Canada did not make it mandatory until 1991. Canada bans the sale of raw milk but not its consumption.

Although it is illegal to sell raw milk in Canada, consumers can own a share in the ‘source’ cow, which is what dairy farmer Michael Schmidt’s (owner of Glencolton Farms) customers do.

On January 21, 2010, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky acquitted Michael Schmidt on 19 charges relating to the distribution of his raw milk. Because Schmidt had made diligent efforts to keep his cow-share program operating “within the confines and the spirit of the legislation”, JP Kowarsky concluded that the alleged offense fell into the category of ‘strict liability’; that is, criminal intent (‘mens rea’) could not be proved.

Schmidt had been prepared to do battle on a human rights level, and challenge the statutes on the ground that they violated his basic human right to ‘life, liberty and security of person’.

In November of 2009, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF)–an independent, non-partisan, registered charity–announced its support for Schmidt on the grounds that consumers have the rights to choose what they put in their bodies, freedom of contract, and freedom from government regulation that is ‘arbitrary, unreasonable, unnecessary, and unfair’. However, with Schmidt’s full acquittal, these complex legal issues may go unchallenged.

The Ontario government could choose to let the ruling stand, and live with the reality of cow-share arrangements. The existing cow-share system is a public response to restrictive legislation. However, this is not satisfying the general public, because many people who would like to be able to access raw milk are unable to access a cow-share program; consequently, they have approached the CCF to see if the organization can pressure the government to change the law.

Schmidt and his long struggle have gained wide public support: the more people learn about his plight and educate themselves on the scientific and potential health benefits of consuming raw milk, the more people seem to want free access to it. Since Schmidt was charged in November, 2006, the size of the herd he manages has doubled and there is a waiting list of consumers wishing to participate in Schmidt’s cow-share program….”

Read the whole thing on Marler-Clark’s “Food Safety” blog.

Picture above is from Marler Clark’s E-coli blog

1 Comment

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One response to “Marler Clark reviews developments in recent raw milk controversy in Ontario

  1. Food Safety News is a daily Web-based newspaper dedicated to reporting on issues surrounding food safety. We provide timely reporting on food safety issues with contributed articles from food safety leaders and feeds from government, food industry, and other food safety authorities.

    The article was written by Kristeva Dowling, a free-lance writer from Canada.

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