“… So what exactly happened to the raw milk article? The word I have on pretty good sources (I don’t want to identify them because this stuff is so sensitive that jobs and careers could be placed at risk) is that someone from the FDA (Sheehan?) contacted the CDRF and demanded that the SPLASH raw milk article be removed. The FDA was reportedly especially upset because the SPLASH article asserted that the European research indicates pasteurization may “destroy complex proteins and other components that could bolster human health.”
Indeed, Sheehan testified on just this subject before the Maine legislature in 2011, in connection with a (successful) effort by the FDA to block legislation that would have made it easier for small dairies to sell raw milk directly to customers.
His testimony made clear that the European research on the role of proteins in conferring health benefits, and their sensitivity to pasteurization couldn’t have been correct. “Pasteurization does not destroy milk proteins,” he claimed. “Caseins, the major family of milk proteins, are largely unaffected by pasteurization. Any changes which might occur with whey proteins are barely perceptible.”
Back to our lesson on academic freedom. The FDA obviously has a different view of “truth” than the European researchers. And certainly, the issue hasn’t been resolved. It requires further research and analysis. That is what academic freedom is all about–analyzing, researching, debating, discussing.
The view underlying academic freedom is that no one holds a monopoly on truth. It explains why professors get tenure–so they will feel free to express their views on scientific (or other research) despite the political pressures of the day. Censoring scientific papers is a big no-no within the tradition of academic freedom.
I have no way of knowing whether anyone at UC Davis or CDRF protested to the FDA that pulling the raw milk article was a serious infringement on academic freedom. But I can guess at what the FDA reaction would have been–something like if you were to tell an underworld enforcer trying to sell you “protection” that such practices are against the law. A laugh, and then a question: “Who you gonna complain to?”
But perhaps the FDA should be looking over its shoulder, and asking a different question: How long can it keep its finger in the dike and preventing the Truth from asserting itself?”