“Governments should back off in raw milk fight” — the Sudbury Star

From Bill Glisky, in the Sudbury Star:

Activist and mom Liz Reitzig at Tuesday's FDA "Milk and Cookies" protest rally. Photo by Kimberly Hartke

“No one would argue that governments have a vital role in protecting health and safety.

The issue is with how far any government goes in providing that protection.

In May, we noted how the provincial health ministry had stepped beyond the realm of protecting us from bad eggs to protecting us from our own judgements by cracking down on eggs being sold at farmers markets.

The same situation exists with raw milk, where Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt is in the midst of a long court battle over his selling and distribution of unpasteurized milk.

Specifically, Schmidt is seeking leave to appeal a court ruling prohibiting him from selling shares in his cows so customers can have raw milk.

Ontario and federal laws prevent the sale of unpasteurized milk because it may contain pathogens otherwise destroyed by pasteurization. Those pathogens can cause foodborne illness and lead to serious conditions from fever, vomiting and diarrhea, to life-threatening kidney failure, miscarriage and death.

Supports of raw milk, however, argue that if produced properly, raw milk is not only safe, but has health benefits, particularly for those who have health problems preventing them from drinking pasteurized milk.

In particular, unheated milk contains enzymes and lactase-producing bacteria our bodies use to break down and assimilate the milk sugar lactose; those bacteria are killed in the pasteurization process.

Further, Schmidt’s lawyer, Karen Selick, argues that while much of the debate has centred on food safety, Schmidt’s case is a sign of heavy-handed government on several levels.

“It’s about whether individuals who take the trouble to inform themselves … have the right to decide what’s best for their own health,” Selick said. “It seems like the government is adamant that it is going to make all the decisions for people.”

Selick is exactly right. While the government has both the right and responsibility to protect society from rampant, unrestricted circulation of milk products that may not be safe, that is far different from stopping people from making informed decisions on matters that come down to personal preference.

In the case of Schmidt, those wanting access to raw milk would have to go out of their way to get it, and thus circulation would be limited to those who choose raw milk despite knowledge of, or at least the ability to be informed about, the potential health risk.

In stopping people from having that option, and by persecuting Schmidt for providing it, governments have gone beyond their role as protector of society to removing one of the fundamental pillars of it, namely freedom of choice.

That is both dangerous and wrong. The government should back off; dropping the charges against Schmidt would be a good start.”

From the Sudbury Star.

2 Comments

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2 responses to ““Governments should back off in raw milk fight” — the Sudbury Star

  1. Gretna Maggiacomo

    Bill has common sense, something we have a shortage of in southern Ontario!!!!

  2. Gulshanin

    IN DEFENSE OF PURE-RAW MILK’.

    There is no danger in drinking Raw Milk, or rather un-pasteurized Milk. I can vouch about it and prove it.
    I am an Indian African and for centuries we the East African people drank Milk coming straight from Cows sold to us by the African farmers. Who didn’t even have any knowledge of today’s technology.
    The only rule was that as soon as we get the raw milk we should
    boil it first as we didn’t have the ‘Fridge’ in early days.
    Even after we got the fridge we still boiled it first and then stored it.
    Though, many people drank it raw, and we never got sick or had any kind of health problems, as the Cows and Goats were
    fed with normal food of pure Grass unlike today’s cows are fed with anti-Biotic and other chemicals mixed.

    Consequently, I don’t understand why the Government is denying people to drink pure raw milk, which is no danger to our health.
    Unlike the Alcohol, Cigarettes, and of course Guns.
    I urge Mr. Schmidt to finish his fasting, as he has the living truth to support him.
    I am the living proof and the divine revelation about the pure Milk that the World
    drank through Biblical time, in pre-Islamic period and present time in Africa. .
    I hope to know his Court date, so I can be there supporting him as a living proof of centuries..
    Shalom-Salaam/Peace.
    Gulshanin

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