Michael Schmidt reports on his participation earlier this summer in the first international conference on food safety and quality of organic food in Prague:
Michael Schmidt, biodynamic farmer in Canada
I am here as a farmer, not as a scientist. The urgently needed scientific debate in Canada has been compromised through very often violent political actions towards farmers and consumers As a result a constructive dialogue about the merits of raw milk for human consumption has been prevented so far. We have been witnessing this growing anti raw milk enforcement for the last 25 years in North America. Currently we are facing in the US and Canada the enforcement of an “absolute no risk policy” as it relates to raw milk.
I have been involved in this battle for 17 years and the following comments have been made repeatedly by Health Officials, Government agencies and the dairy lobby.
Drinking raw milk is like playing Russian roulette
Drinking raw milk is tantamount to man slaughter,
It is a very overheated political debate, which currently prevents a constructive scientific dialogue about the real risks and how we can manage those risks in a common sense approach. It also prevents any debate about the obvious health effects associated with raw milk.
The discussion should not be about eliminating risks by eliminating raw milk, which is impossible and would be clearly discriminating against raw milk. The approach has to be to minimize risks and initiate proper research why there are clear health benefits associated with raw milk. This passionate raw milk debate in North America in fact has helped to trigger in part the non violent food-freedom resistance.
According to current statistics 90% of the food on the shelves in North American supermarkets are already contaminated with GMOs, which indicates that the agricultural supply industry has definitely taking control off our food production.
Quote of the former Us Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: ‘control oil and you control nations, control food and you control the people’.
The debate about food and food safety is not any more within the scientific community or amongst the farmers. It has become a political power play. The industry itself has a tight grip on Government policy- making and therefore has almost everything under control, except those who start to resist and openly challenge the system.
Raw milk itself has become an interesting component in the food freedom movement.
The traditional way of farming is on the way out. What we have now are more and more dairy farms in California with thousands of cows or feedlots to fatten cattle Through the concentration of animal production there is an emerging pathogen pressure. Caused amongst other factors by the uncontrolled use of therapeutical antibiotics. It is suspected that these industrial farms are also unintentionally breeding new forms of highly dangerous pathogens in a manner unseen before.
If you are able to visit these huge farms you notice the lack of people. You see the animals and you see trucks and tractors driving around, but you will also observe the lack of human contact with the animals. The food production in NA is based on technology and utmost rationality.
Across North America the separation of crop production and animal production is part of the industrial based farming concept.
The feed is coming from somewhere else, done by different corporations supplying cattle feed lots
Manure distribution and waste management become logistical and environmental nightmares of greatest concerns.
In contrast; at our own farm it is part of our wholistic management that people understand where their food is coming from. They become co-owners. They can become co-workers and also enjoy taking part harvesting, building and seasonal celebrations.
The centralisation of food production will ultimately lead to a total collapse of small farms. Due to this a new dessert is rapidly increasing in NA. Vast stretches of agricultural lands are deserted. Nobody lives anymore where one used to find on every 40 hectare ( 100 acres) a homestead.
Government Health Units promote health policies based on: “everything has to be sterile”. Their concept of ‘food safety’ disregards completely the nutritional aspect. However by now we know that we need enough bacteria to built-up our immune system.
In the shallow North American scientific debate, officials state; “that there is no proof of the nutritional benefit of drinking raw milk compared to pasteurized milk”.
No study has been conducted on this subject in North America in the last 50 years.
In 2010 we decided at Glencolton Farms to conduct a small experiment by comparing a raw milk fed calf versus a store milk-fed calf.
The following have been the the most obvious preliminary findings after the calves were butchered with 5 months.
Over all the development of the pasteurized calf slowed down after two months.
Lack luster behavior and lack of alertness during the last 3 months.
The smell in the pasteurized calf pen was disgusting.
Heart size 40%less than of the raw milk calf
Very pale coloring of liver and kidneys.
The digestive track was filled with foul smelling brown and runny soup compared to the other calf with solid and healthy smelling substance.
The testicle of the pasteurized calf was 30% smaller in size.
Hair loss and no shine of coat.
Both calves received the same feed except the difference of the daily ration of 8 liters of the different milks.
It is easy to dispute the findings based on just two calves. However it confirmed similar findings done in a similar widely ignored study years ago.
It would be crucial and very important to conduct a repeat study under the supervision of the scientific community.
In Canada the sale and distribution of raw milk is banned. Half of the United States is also banning the sale and distribution of raw milk.
A very strong involvement of the dairy industry to maintain the ban on raw milk has resulted in many violent attacks on individual farmers.
More and more a sometimes violent battle is unfolding similar in nature to drug raids across NA
On a positive note after 17 years battling with the Ontario government we unexpectedly won. The trial was about the right to cow sharing. Last year after this highly public trial, we finally legalized ‘cow-sharing’ in at least one Province in Canada.
Take home message: the idea of food safety should be opened up to look first at the issue of freedom of choice and personal responsibility and secondly on ways of understanding the ecology of the involved zoonotic micro-organisms. At the farm level cow sharing is a legal way to sell raw milk to families.
There is an urgent need to expand the research on the apparent health benefits of raw milk and the increase of allergies and lactose intolerance.