Raw Milk Is Not A Libertarian Issue - And Republicans Should Not Make It A GOP One
    By Hank Campbell | April 24th 2014 04:31 PM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    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.


    OK, I'll bite, as I do consider it a rights issue and hence a freedom issue. Seems your article emphasizes risk and so you opt for the risk free alternative. Now we could take your position across the board the: A percentage of vehicles will result in accidents, even deaths, so let's prohibit say cars and only drive dodgem ones. Or, a percentage of hikers will have accidents, even resulting in deaths, so let's prohibit the activity. Another percentage of pedestrians crossing roads will have accidents, even deaths, so let's prohibit crossing roads on foot. While yet another percentage of electrical home appliances will also cause accidents and yes, deaths, so lets just eliminate them from our homes, etc... By the time we eliminate 'all risk' life will hardly be worth living. I put it to you, that the same is true of raw milk.

    Re this:

    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.

    In a rational society, giving children either Wild Turkeys or cigarettes would be none of anyones business. If the activities are consensual, they are legitimate. Even if sometimes, they result in harm.

    Finally, I will say this: I enjoyed reading your well composed articles.


    I am clearly sympathetic toward libertarian philosophy, that rood word liber is prominently discussed early in Science Left Behind and I endorse everyone who is on the same side of it (unlike the claim of the commenter, just below this, who thinks I somehow dislike liberals, which never once happens in the book nor has it in 1,600 articles - but I am not going to sit under an umbrella when the umbrella is wrong. 

    Yet libertarians about raw milk say we should should just sit there under it and be quiet when the position is wrong - that is in defiance of the very spirit of liberty. At a time when Americans were a little more 'in touch' with what they consume, I think you are correct, there should be a choice, because commerce was local and the problem was self-correcting - a farmer who made his neighbors sick was out of business and a farmer who pasteurized had a competitive advantage. But it was consumers who were relieved when pasteurization became the norm, because it was one more thing they did not have to worry about. Pasteurization has been a giant public health win. Some states have raw milk sales but this new effort is to export it - that is a mistake.

    I can go to China and order chicken from a street vendor and not worry about getting sick, because I was raised on a farm, whereas an urban-raised American should be wary about getting hepatitis, because they were not getting feces on them just about every single day. This newfound libertarian mentality about food instead says there should be no health standards and that everyone should be at risk of getting sick because someone doesn't wash their hands. Who wants to go to a restaurant wondering if it has been cleaned? 
    "If I should take a notion
    To jump into the ocean,
    It ain't nobody's business if I do."

    (Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, recorded by Billie Holliday)

    In short: go fuck yourself.

    I agree you have every right to off yourself by jumping into the ocean. You do not, however, have the right to drown your children in it. Nor do you have the right to do so as part of interstate commerce.

    I know you think you do.  But you don't.

    Studies will have to be done to see if raw milk turns stupid anonymous people on the Internet from being ill-mannered, foul-mouthed idiots into actual murderers. That is only a data point of one so far. What studies have shown already is that raw milk has no benefits and a lot of risks.
    "I know you think you do."

    No, I don't believe I may rightly murder my children. The tiny risk associated with raw milk is more akin to, say, playing contact sports.

    Categorically untrue. If you spent some time learning before you babble, instead of entering adult discussions with swearing and childish behavior, you would know that.

    Go back to your infantile rant sites and leave actual science and health forums to rational people.
    Maybe I should have said non-contact sports. I take it you would also support the banning of horseback riding?

    Current statistics say that horse riders can expect a serious injury for every 350 hours of riding. We're talking about people getting their skulls smashed in, their spinal cords snapped clean in two, having their livers chopped in half by a horse's hoof, their rib cages crushed flat when a thousand-pound animal lands on them coming off a ten foot fall.

    Can you show with statistics that raw milk is worse than that?

    Guys, lighten up!

    Besides, there's always this, LOL:

    US Gun Statistics
    Various Sources

    (A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
    (B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
    (C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

    (Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health Human Services)

    (A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
    Yes, that is 80 million.

    (B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
    (C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.000188.

    Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.
    Remember, "Guns don't kill people, doctors do."


    Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!

    Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

    :)   That is the funny thing about statistics. People who want to misuse them can. I was able to correlate the political in turmoil in Ukraine to the price of steel, using the same methodology activist epidemiologists do about their latest pet causes. 

    Raw milk, however, has been well studied; a well-designed study is prospective, not retrospective, and raw milk even today leads to 3X more hospitalizations than any other foodborne illness source because of the runaway levels of Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli. And that is with a small population of drinkers who, like me, grew up drinking it and developed immunity to a lot of stuff that kids with fashion-chasing health nut parents will not have. If the general population starts buying it, that is going to skyrocket. 

    Since there is no health benefit, and risk of harm, that is not a libertarian issue, it is simply a weird personal food belief, no different than parents who insist on organic food, going vegan, going gluten-free or demonizing sugar. 

    I'm in general agreement but think raw milk sales should be allowed IF there is a label prominently explaining the hazards and instructing consumers how to heat milk to pasteurize it. This allows very small farmers who can't afford pasteurization equipment to sell their products.

    There are indeed no health benefits to raw milk. There are increased risks, but those risks are still minuscule. Let the buyer beware.

    I have to disagree with your straw man depiction of raw milk consumers as "anti-science hippies." Maybe some of them are but a huge number are back-to-the-land, home-schooling-type Christians; immigrants, especially from Russia, Ukraine, etc.; and survivalists of all stripes.

    This same straw man "hate all liberals" attitude seriously mars your book too, mate, which is too bad.

    weird social authoritarian cult leader Michael Bloomberg
    Of course, as an entrenched Brit and European, this is somewhat outside my galaxy.

    I really only became aware of him a few years ago.  Our university campus hosts an international business management school, which to this day still continues to serve cheaper drinks and food — albeit with a somewhat limited selection — than central catering.  Members of our department used to repair there for elevenses or afternoon tea.

    In their cafe, there was a large screen which continuously displayed Bloomberg TV.  It was there that a particular phenomenon struck me: how similar all their news anchors look.  They came in different colours — white, black, yellow, brown — though to date, no green or blue.

    So, one wonders, do they select for that appearance, or are they somehow assimilated into that particular borg?

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a very comprehensive list of questions and answers regarding the risks and benefits of drinking raw animal's milk. Its difficult to imagine why anyone would want to feed raw animal milk to their child or drink it themselves after reading this.

    The analogies mentioned above of crossing the road or playing contact sports or driving a car seem irrelevant because safer pasteurised milk is freely available. A better analogy would probably be that drinking raw animal's milk is like crossing the road deaf and blindfolded and not using the zebra crossing, playing contact sports without any umpires, rules or protective clothing or driving an unsafe, uninsured and unregistered car the wrong way down a street at high speed without wearing a safety belt.

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    You are absolutely wrong. Organic milk, according to USDA Organic standards, CAN NOT come from a cow that has consumed GMO feed.

    No idea what that has to do with this article but, okay, let's pretend it matters - are you saying proponents of raw milk don't want the government interfering with preventing dangerous pathogens but they do want the government to prevent completely safe milk from being sold without a sticker?

    That makes even less sense than raw milk does all by itself, so I doubt they have lost their minds so completely.