In American politics there is a comfortable détente about which science craziness to allow under the big tents - Republicans are okay if their members won't accept evidence of climate science or evolution while Democrats are fine if their voters don't accept the science behind food, energy and medicine.
Sure, there is some overlap - 3 Republicans in Congress joined 52 Democrats in trying to get a Federal warning label for GMOs pushed through, and plenty of Democrats have campaigned against any climate change regulation - but those are exceptions. Generally, if you want to find an anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, anti-energy hotbed, you just look for a Whole Foods store. And if you want to find out where people are less likely to accept evolution and global warming, look for counties with a Cracker Barrel.
Republicans generally support science when it comes to health while many Democrats do not. Look at the alarming difference between vaccine acceptance in a red state like Alabama and a blue state like California.
One unhealthy trend has gotten some Republican support though, because proponents have framed it is being about pesky Big Government controlling choice: raw milk.
That's a big mistake.
Raw milk is different than Big Gulps. You have to drink a lot of those to be harmed and that is why weird social authoritarian cult leader Michael Bloomberg failed spectacularly to ban them. Raw milk doesn't take much at all to be harmed - one glass will do it.
Raw milk is dangerous. Pasteurization is good, that is why foodborne illnesses plummeted when it became the norm and that is why raw milk is far more dramatically over-represented in health risk than pasteurized milk now. Raw milk should be left to anti-science hippies where it belongs, but raw milk proponents have managed to make it a libertarian issue. And so a few Republicans have joined Democrats in offering to overturn laws that prevent states that allow sales of raw milk from exporting foodborne illnesses to other states.
Bad idea. Raw milk has no health benefits to offset the alarming risk, the CDC knows this and that is why the party that claims to be more about evidence and reason should not be mobilizing to help Democrats put kids in harm's way. I drank raw milk when I was a child, but I also lived on a farm where I was exposed to lots of things and my kids do not, so suddenly introducing one extreme microbial outlier to them is not wise. If raw milk becomes common it is going to be foisted off on urban kids as part of the latest parental diet fad, the same way they might take them off gluten, sugar or whatever else shows up in the New York Times next week.
Contribution of vitamins to the recommended daily intake (%RDI) based on the consumption of one large glass of raw or heat-treated milk (250 ml). Souci et al. (2008), Andersson and Öste (1995, chap. 13), Schaafsma (1989), Belitz and Grosch (1987, chap. 10), and Walstra and Jeness (1984). BSHC (2009). No data for vitamins B2, B5, A, D, E, K, niacin and biotin in pasteurized and boiled milk, and for vitamin K in UHT- and sterilized milk. Credit and link: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.09.035
Advocates are framing it as a freedom issue - they have gone on the same rant in comments here when I have criticized raw milk sales before - and the GOP seems to be responding to that, but they are wrong for doing so.
Here's the deal; there is no natural law that says you have the right to poison your child. It's that simple. That's why we do not make it a personal choice for parents to give children Wild Turkey or cigarettes. Critics of food safety laws (including studies they fund which reach conclusions they don't like, such as the Raw Milk Institute about that Annals of Family Medicine one) insist this is about choice, but it is not, it is about substantial equivalence.
Raw milk should be required to demonstrate it has substantial equivalence to pasteurized milk - that is, that it can do more harm than pasteurized milk. Every other product must pass this simple test.
Raw milk wants to be exempt from food safety laws and place people at risk. If Republicans are wise, they will let Democrats be the party that makes a lot of children sick.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- "Question. We know that during the Eemian the Arctic was 8C degrees warmer than today. A core extracted..."
- "This was an inspired rant--much needed. Thank you. I once tried to point out to the Alzheimer's..."
- "Please look up thermal time constant. Study it and get back. Thanks...."
- "At least in the note excerpted from Matthew, we can see why Darwin and Wallace deserve credit not..."
- "Sure sounds like Lillian Hellman: Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the. - Mary..."