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November 9, 2011

Raw Milk, the FDA, and Movement Misdirection

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In the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s (FTCLDF) raw milk rights lawsuit against the FDA, the FDA has previously said it considers individuals transporting raw milk across state lines for personal use to be engaging in “interstate commerce”, that they were criminals, and that while it had no immediate plans to arrest individuals for this, it reserved the right to do so. 
 
In response to this and countless other acts and declarations of FDA tyranny, the Raw Milk Freedom Rider demonstration engaged in a mass individual transportation of raw milk across the border from Pennsylvania to Maryland. Proving the value of direct action, this and other pressure has forced the FDA to issue a press release affirming that it will not try to enforce its renegade “law” that way.
 
Here’s the money quote:
 

With respect to the interstate sale and distribution of raw milk, the FDA has never taken, nor does it intend to take, enforcement action against an individual who purchased and transported raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption.

 
The press release is nevertheless filled with lies and Big Lies. It lies about the evidence for raw milk’s health benefits. It lies about the number of cases of illness attributable to raw milk, a miniscule amount nonetheless. It elides the vastly greater number of illnesses caused by pasteurized milk.
 
On the big scale, it calls itself a “science-based public health agency”. Yet all its actions are directly in aggressive support of corporate interests. These actions and declarations are usually directly contradictory to one another. Thus here it claims raw milk isn’t sufficiently supported by science. Yet by that measure GMOs should never have been approved in the first place, and at the very least there should be mandatory labeling of all “foods” containing them. Indeed, by now evidence of GMOs’ menace to health is piling up. But where it comes to GMOs the FDA’s position is full steam ahead, with no claim ever having to be substantiated, no precautionary regulation ever having to be applied, no contrary evidence ever considered for a moment.
 
The “science-based” FDA dogmatically declares that GMOs aren’t different “in any meaningful or uniform way” from food, in spite of its possession of over 20,000 internal documents proving the myriad ways in which GMOs are radically different, always to the malign side. This is at the same moment that the same government’s patent office declares GMOs to be so different from other crops that they deserve patent monopolies. So far as I can see, the science-based FDA has not tried to correct what it presumably must consider the patent office’s mistake.
 
Meanwhile, there’s no doubt whatsoever about the science of CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations, AKA factory farms). These are literally unregulated bioweapons factories. No such concentration of animals could ever exist long without being wiped out by an epidemic. All such confined animals are permanently sick. They’re kept on a constant, heavy maintenance regime of antibiotics. By design the system is a biological arms race, as ever more powerful antibiotics desperately try to stay one step ahead of ever more resistant microbes. It’s a fact that each and every CAFO is a clear and present danger to the public health. A factory farm will one day be the source for a lethal pandemic among humans. This is not a possibility but an inevitability.
 
But the science-based public health agency is uninterested in this. On the contrary, it does all it can to defend and promote the CAFO interest. The day this mass pandemic comes, FDA officials will among those guilty of literal mass murder. They must be held accountable as such.
 
So that should put into perspective the FDA’s oh-so-touching solicitude for the public health where it comes to the big bad raw milk monster. 
 
So there’s one small gain, with a long hard fight ahead.
 
Which leads to some not-so-good news.
 
To succeed, a movement has to have a clear view of who’s the enemy, for starters. In the case of food the enemy, of course, is Big Ag. It has tremendous power and is very aggressive in getting the also very powerful government to act as its thug. Yet according to this piece, Joel Salatin in his new book wants to divert the focus of the movement away from the real enemy and toward a phony peripheral target, “overzealous consumer advocates”. 
 
Of course such myopic advocates do exist, but they’re powerless in themselves and gain a phony nimbus of power only where their advocacy advances corporate interests. In that case, they receive corporate money, they’re featured in the corporate media, and the corporate interest tries to hide behind this phony public face. Such “consumer groups”, some of them perhaps dupes and useful idiots, are really corporate front groups. That’s the source of the phony “Food Safety” pseudo-movement. Meanwhile, these front groups seek to defend and intensify all the worst corporate practices – factory farming, GMOs, the whole pesticide/herbicide regime, and so much more – which are very things making us sick.
 
Salatin must know all that perfectly well, as I’m sure Gumpert, Mark McAfee, and others do. Yet here they are propagating this pro-corporate lie, and the rest of the comment thread was eating it up. I didn’t see a single anti-corporate voice raised in dissent.
 
I don’t know what Salatin’s real agenda is, but at any rate here he is sticking up for Big Ag, representing them as innocent bystanders whose power just “accidentally” keeps increasing. Big Ag stands by passively, while these ferocious advocates run around terrorizing the poor little government into doing things which just inertially happen to benefit the corporate food rackets. They also force the poor innocent little corporate media into covering them. This is a typical line of corporate propaganda we’ve already seen in every sector – bank regulations cause financial crashes, environmental regulations cause oil spills, and on and on. Here it is indeed the regulations which are the problem, but their real source isn’t a food safety/consumer advocacy movement which on its own has no more power than, for example, the single payer movement. “Food Safety” regulation, as in the recent Food Control bill, is engineered by the likes of Monsanto and Cargill, often directly written by their lobbyists, and then laundered through these “consumer” front groups. This gives the corporate media the best angle to present what’s nothing but corporate propaganda.
 
Anyone who knows anything about how the system works knows that no activist movement can accomplish anything whatsoever with the government or media other than through direct action from the bottom up. Unless, that is, the “advocacy” happens to coincide with the corporate interest. Then the media’s red carpet is rolled out, the doors of government access are thrown open, and the “advocate” himself becomes a system fixture. But that’s all he is – an ornament, a piece of tinsel.
 
The movement can never win so long as forces within want to act as agents of misdirection. There’s only one enemy: the corporate-state nexus. There’s only one direction to attack: straight up.
 
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23 Comments

  1. I like this post. I have met Gumpert and Salatin. I would agree with you that they are focused upon their corner of the universe. What they do well is to get a lot of people to wake up to the intrusive nature of the government. But, as you say, they hold the government responsible and don’t do enough to look at the corporate “stakeholders” who have bought the government at the federal level. (In their everyday activities they mostly run into the low level (confused) public officials who are scared to death of bacteria. (They also have a couple of parents who claim that their children got sick from raw milk who follow them around on the internet and keep attacking.) So they are literally driven nuts by over zealous consumer advocates.

    In order to attack “straight up” the bottom has to have some scientific knowledge that it currently lacks. It would be wonderful to find a connection between those pesky “consumer activists” and the corporations. I’ll bet there is one. But there is a woman out there whose child apparently did get sick. I think he/she drank milk from a bulk tank. Of course filthy food can make people sick and no one wants that to happen. I suspect that some corporate interests, and certainly one of those ambulance chasing lawyers, may be supporting her.

    I think I will send your post to our local Board of Health. They aren’t paid by corporations but they don’t understand bacteriology at all.

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — November 9, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    • Yes, I saw one of them trolling Gumpert’s blog. Recently, after what I thought was a saintly level of patience, he finally told her to knock it off.

      I agree that these zealots are a problem, and I don’t say ignore them. But it only makes sense to refute them by constantly redirecting the focus to Big Ag. Almost every case of food contamination is caused by corporate methods. And the rare cases which aren’t are statistically insignificant compared to those which are. So if the answer is regulation at all (as opposed to simply abolishing food commodification), it’s focused regulation of industrial agriculture, not the one-size-fits-all sham which by design further entrenches it while assaulting small producers. Any advocate who supports the latter is myopic at best, and in any case is at least objectively pro-corporate and anti-safety.

      For anyone who truly wants food safety, the rationally and scientifically proven course is clear: End corporate welfare, which will render food corporatism impossible. All the worst practices would cease to exist.

      Short of that, if one still believes in reform, then the basic measure is obvious: Ban CAFOs and GMOs. Anyone whose first demand isn’t this is lying when he claims to care about food safety.

      Finally, for the real cowards, there’s one last “reformist” option: Enforce pre-2010 law against the corporate producers. That would have stopped Wright Eggs, for example, long before its most recent, biggest outbreak.

      But under no circumstances was the 2010 Food Control needed for anything. It was insufficient vs. the worst threats (it does nothing vs. CAFOs or GMOs or the pesticide/herbicide regime in general), while redundant vs. the medium ones. But of course that’s because it really had no safety intention at all, but is instead a weapon of the corporate war on the people.

      I despise the “consumer” myopics just as much as Salatin does. But I do so precisely because they’re cowardly corporate flunkeys, not because they’re actually the real bullies of government and media. Quite the contrary, government and media use them for propaganda purposes. But in Gumpert’s telling, Salatin’s basically saying to ignore Big Ag itself and focus on the zealots as the primary enemy. If this is to be believed, then once the zealots are refuted the government will stop favoring Big Ag. That, of course, is absurd. Salatin wants to attack the puppet and ignore the puppetmaster. Typical corporatist misdirection. The only possible result of such a focus would be to waste time and energy.

      Comment by Russ — November 9, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  2. you’re absolutely correct, Russ, that the “overzealous consumer” is the straw man in Joel’s argument — and a flawed one at that. Of course, Joel is coming from a libertarian perspective so feels particularly pinched by pro-gov forces who want every aspect of our lives controlled.

    Comment by Rady — November 9, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    • I can appreciate if on account of temperament, taste, or whatever one chooses to emphasize the government rather than the corporations, as long as one sees them as one monolith. But to call run-of-the-mill advocates the real wire-pullers is not only wrong but is a standard trope of pro-corporate apologetics.

      Comment by Russ — November 9, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  3. I’m 100% in agreement that the focus must be on the fact that we have demonstrably sociopathic, unaccountable, unelected organisations making food safety decisions on behalf of our communities, in a fundamentally unscientific and undemocratic manner. That said, although I understand anti-GMO sentiment, I’m leery of putting legitimate scientific appeals about things like milk microbiology alongside documents which claim that GMOs are “inherently unsafe” because their DNA is “a staggering 2‐4% different from its natural parent” (is a heirloom hybrid variety “inherently unsafe” because it has a different genome from whatever-arbitrary-variety-you-choose-as-a-“natural parent”?). The actual toxicological evidence about Bt plants (some of which is, to its credit, presented in the same document) is concerning enough on its own- it’s equivocal and incomplete, but it’s obvious that there are substantial unaddressed risks for those crops. GMOs are problematic always and everywhere when they’re used by corporations- but the problem is the corporation. I don’t see any inherent contradiction between direct genetic engineering and a democratic agroecology (although I doubt many communities would care to pursue it unless in dire need of drought- or salt-tolerant traits in crops lacking them), but clearly the GMO regime that we have is a corporate one. It must be smashed because it embodies the logic of corporatism, not because of some intrinsic evil embodied in intervening directly in a genome by engineering vs indirectly by breeding.

    I think more generally there’s a danger in applying this sort of Western “natural”/”artificial” dichotomy to the sorts of techniques we want to see in a democratic agroecology. Even if you don’t just reject the dichotomy outright (what does “artificial” mean? Everything we do occurs in the natural universe, animals use tools, etc etc), there’s nothing “natural” (occuring without human intervention) about agriculture, period. There’s no point in getting derailed about whether GMOs are “really” just a kind of breeding no different from what we’ve been doing as a species for the last couple dozen millenia, or whatever. GMOs are used by corporations to undermine the autonomy of local producers, to extract rents on the most basic subsistence routines, to bully and dominate, and that’s really all that matters- that the corporations don’t give a shit about how safe they are is just a side effect.

    Comment by paper mac — November 9, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    • We agree that corporatism is the main reason to oppose GMOs, among other things. But that doesn’t change the fact that we know almost nothing about what harm these things can do to our health, real crops, and the environment.

      As for your question about what’s natural, what’s artificial, although I can’t draw a bright line, I can say that anything, like splicing a gene from a jellyfish into a corn plant, which is impossible outside a high-technology laboratory, fits my definition of “unnatural”. The kind of definition of natural which would mean basically “anything that happens” is so devoid of information value that one might as well dispense with the term itself, in which case we’d need a new one to denote things like “possible outside a lab”.

      Comment by Russ — November 9, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

      • I agree with you about the lack of information as well. It’s part of why I really dislike seeing mangled information or scaremongering in anti-GMO materials. Presenting what we know, what’s ambiguous or contradictory, and what we don’t know is completely sufficient for most sane people to realise that the crops being peddled by Big Ag are bad news and in any case being used to subvert their autonomy.

        As far as the definition of what’s natural, I’m sticking to “anything that happens”, LOL. There’s so much weirdness in biological systems that it’s a kind of hubris to think we’ve got privileged access to it, IMHO. My favourite example is maize- Barbara McClintock actually discovered transposons (DNA elements that hop around in a genome) in maize. It turns out that a huge chunk of the maize genome is actually transposons- kilobases of DNA cutting and pasting themselves willy-nilly, resulting in all kinds of weird mutations, altered protein expression, etc. That’s part of why you get so many weird maize colour variants. So if a small farmer finds some new maize sport in their field, it’s pretty much a guarantee that genome is substantially rearranged from its recent ancestors (as I noted in my response to Rady below, it’s also been realised that horizontal gene transfer occurs in plants as well, so new genes in some species may even be from other organisms).

        What I’m getting at is that the focus on the GMOs-are-unnatural-and-therefore-inherently-bad stuff misses almost all of the salient points (toxicological concerns, industry undermining of regulatory agencies and academic science, destruction of local markets in seed, brittleness of pesticide-reliant monocropping, etc) and adds an unnecessary and unsupportable normative component to an otherwise scientific argument that opens it for attack on those grounds.

        I also feel like the viewpoint that puts human endeavour outside of the natural world is part of the problem. This is sort of inchoate, but I feel like “is it natural?” is the wrong question when selecting agricultural processes. Like in Eliot Coleman’s books, he says he uses rock phosphate instead of superphosphate. I feel like that’s what happens when your question is “is it natural?”- you replace a synthetic chemical fertiliser with crushed up rocks stripmined by gasoline burning equipment from nonrenewable quarries. Yeah, the rocks are real natural, but peak phosphate is peak phosphate. Every practice has to be evaluated in its specific local context by the people who are affected by it, and they have to be asking much more sophisticated questions than “is it natural”, I think.

        Comment by paper mac — November 9, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

      • Two years ago I decided that although scientism and technocracy are malevolent in themselves even in the absence of any profit motive, since the form they’ve taken is to serve as the prostitutes of profit, therefore there’s little point in attacking them in themselves. Rather, they should be attacked in the context of fighting corporatism and economic hierarchy. So that’s where my focus lies on that, and I think we agree on that focus.

        It’s actually the same as with the food safety advocates in this post.

        But the argument that GMOs are potentially harmful to health and the environment, and that the threat is vast beyond any pseudo-scientific assurances the rackets and their thug FDA can give us, still has many applications, for example here vs. the FDA’s absurd pretensions to being a “science-based public health” cadre where it starts pontificating about raw milk.

        Beyond that, the people have always distrusted Frankenfood. That’s not the result of allegedly sloppy science on the part of anti-GMO fighters. It doesn’t work that way. The people intuit that where it comes to our food we can’t be as cavalier about this stuff as we are where it comes to transporting or entertaining ourselves.

        While I don’t have as exhaustive a knowledge of the details as you guys, I know what’s obviously unnatural when I see it. Nuclear fission and fusion are another example of something which doesn’t happen (on this planet) outside a specially designed laboratory.

        I admit I’ve also never understood how highly capitalized ventures requiring intensive technology applications are supposed to exist without hierarchy. Yet many who oppose hierarchy still seem to want things like offshore drilling, nukes, etc. I used to think this was endemic to the “libertarian” scammers, but I’ve since learned that it’s common among anarchists as well. They too never seem to explain how it’s possible to democratically extract the necessary surpluses.

        Comment by Russ — November 10, 2011 @ 5:56 am

      • Here’s a piece which discusses some of the same issues as this thread, along with lots of other stuff.

        http://thisislikesogay.blogspot.com/2011/11/when-cyborgs-collide.html

        Comment by Russ — November 10, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

    • @paper mac ~ No way have humans been genetically re-engineering plants for 12,000 years; the science is half a century old. “Breeding” — which is what you refer to when humans breed the same species with itself, selecting those specimens with “superior” traits — is not genetic engineering. I’m amazed biotech fans continue to assert this blatant lie. Pure propaganda. Purely false.

      One of the characteristics under the scientific definition of species is that two organisms will mate in nature and produce viable offspring. Putting DNA from separate kingdoms together is genetic engineering — and it would never happen in nature.

      Hybrid varieties do not have a different genome, as you assert. The genome is exactly the same, which includes alleles that allow variation in certain traits.

      Comment by Rady — November 9, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

      • I’m no expert on this but in the documentary “The Future Of Food” GMOs are discussed in pretty good detail. One of the major issues is that through the criminally established patent laws these corporate whores can wipe out whatever is left of real food (and extort responsible farmers) as soon as their mutated seeds inevitably start showing up as uninvited guests. The patent scheme is a blatant robbery of the commonwealth with the ability to crush out biodiversity and the right to choose food- as easy as stepping on a South American imported table grape.

        Even if you didn’t think tinkering with the genetics removed all the valuable natural nutrients or wasn’t a force-fed slow poison of the human immune system, it’s stll an all out assault and a sociopathic attempt to dominate and conrol resources.

        All the patent purchasing is downright frightening.

        Comment by Pete — November 9, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

      • Hi Rady. I don’t mean to offend, but you need to brush up on your crop genetics.

        “Putting DNA from separate kingdoms together is genetic engineering — and it would never happen in nature.”

        This is simply not the case. Horizontal gene transfer happens all the time without any human intervention. This includes identified horizontal gene transfers in crop plants like sorghum, maize, etc. In fact, the method used to generate Bt corn is via the use of a naturally occuring gene transfer mechanism in Agrobacterium. I’m actually astonished that you would accuse me of propagandising or spreading falsehoods and go on to make an assertion of this kind.

        “Hybrid varieties do not have a different genome, as you assert. The genome is exactly the same, which includes alleles that allow variation in certain traits.”

        This is not coherent. An organism with an identical genome to another organism is a clone of the first organism. It is not a hybrid, it is not a new variety. “Including alleles that allow variation” implies a varied genome. The genomes of different heirloom varieties differ substantially from one another- this is why they have different traits. Many crops exhibit genomic instability. Many cultivars have very different genetic complements from varieties that are commonly seen in the west. Implying that genomic variability makes a cultivar “inherently unsafe” is absurd and misleading.

        ““Breeding” — which is what you refer to when humans breed the same species with itself, selecting those specimens with “superior” traits — is not genetic engineering.”

        You’ll note that I actually drew exactly this distinction between direct genetic modification and breeding, and indicated that I thought most communities would probably reject direct genetic modification except where absolutely necessary for survival (drought/salt resistance in places like Bangladesh, for instance). The point is that those decisions should be left up to the communities concerned with them (isn’t autonomy and democratic control what food sovereignty is supposed to be about?). Opposing GMOs because they’re predominantly used as weapons by corporations makes sense to me, as a tactical decision. Opposing GMOs because they’re “inherently unsafe” because of “genome variation” or whatever is counterproductive. The existing data on Monsanto’s GMO crops is bad enough- it’s not necessary to scaremonger (doing so puts us on the same level as the FDA re raw milk).

        Comment by paper mac — November 9, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

      • Mac – To say that humans have been genetically engineering plants for thousands of years is false. It’s a talking point of biotech proponents and needs to be confronted whenever it’s asserted. Breeding and GE are two different things entirely.

        No, the genome for a species allows for variety (different alleles). You’re talking about the genome of an individual. I’m not.

        Yes, there are infections that mess with a plant (or animal) – viruses as well as bacteria. That’s not breeding; nor is it genetic engineering. You’re talking about something else entirely.

        Comment by Rady — November 9, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

      • ” Mac – To say that humans have been genetically engineering plants for thousands of years is false. It’s a talking point of biotech proponents and needs to be confronted whenever it’s asserted. Breeding and GE are two different things entirely.”

        As I stated, I am aware of the distinction between direct genetic modification and breeding. I have done both for a living.

        “No, the genome for a species allows for variety (different alleles). You’re talking about the genome of an individual. I’m not.”

        I’m not sure what this means. The genomes of individuals within a species differ. The genomes of cultivars differ. Species are arbitrary categories drawn up for the convenience of cladists. When you eat a tomato, you’re not eating S. lycopersicum, you’re eating the fruit of that particular individual. The extent to which the genome of the yellow pear tomato you’re eating differs from the beefsteak tomato I’m eating or any arbitrary reference point is not particularly relevant to your health or happiness, nor should it be. To say that plant x’s genome differs by x% from some reference sequence tells you nothing about the type or quality of crop that will be produced.

        “Yes, there are infections that mess with a plant (or animal) – viruses as well as bacteria. That’s not breeding; nor is it genetic engineering. You’re talking about something else entirely.”

        No, I’m actually not. Please refer to my previous comment- the techniques which molecular biologists use to insert transgenes into genomes are, more often than not, those that have been found “in the wild”. An agrobacterium infection will insert a transgene into plant DNA regardless of whether those agrobacteria are doing their business in a field or in a lab. As I noted, this was the mechanism used to generate most GM crops.

        Comment by paper mac — November 10, 2011 @ 12:12 am

      • To be 100% clear, nowhere was I asserting that direct genetic modification is synonymous with breeding. What I am asserting is that those kinds of arguments can be sidestepped entirely by, you know, getting the science right. Bt plants are toxic because they’re fucking full of endotoxins, not because their DNA is “staggeringly different” from their parent cultivars.

        Comment by paper mac — November 10, 2011 @ 12:35 am

      • The existing data on Monsanto’s GMO crops is bad enough- it’s not necessary to scaremonger (doing so puts us on the same level as the FDA re raw milk).

        Without passing judgement on who’s right about the scientific details (you guys know more than I do about that), I’ll say that this “same level” stuff always rubs me the wrong way, especially since it’s always substantively and morally wrong.

        1. The most any honest GM advocate could ever assert would be that we don’t know how harmful GMOs may intrinsically be. So at worst an opponent could emotionally charge the uncertainty. Meanwhile the FDA knows for a fact that raw milk is innocuous, certainly compared to CAFO milk. But it scaremongers among a welter of substantive lies.

        2. Let’s say for the sake of argument that this is “scaremongering” (though like I just said I don’t think it is). Just like with violence, if the target of an assault defends and counterattacks using the same tactics as the aggressor, he’s certainly not regressing to “their level” or something. I’ve said many times that I have no moral prejudices where it comes to tactics. The magnitude and viciousness of the assault don’t allow that luxury.

        Still, I agree with you that the main thrust should always be vs. the politico-economic structure of kleptocracy, rather than disputing the intrinsic nature of this or that.

        Comment by Russ — November 10, 2011 @ 5:49 am

      • Yep. I don’t want to harp on about this too much. The use of deceptive FUD is alarming to me as a tactic because it signals two things: “I don’t think I can have a persuasive case without some level of deception” and “my position is primarily an ideological one and the truth only matters to me to the extent it supports my case” (which is what I mean by the comparison with the FDA). I don’t object to the sort of FUD that amounts to “the evidence around this is equivocal, much of it is tainted by corporate malfeasance, and it’s not at all clear that these crops are safe- we should therefore not be growing and consuming them”. My comments here are intended purely to point out that the first type of FUD Is widespread in anti-GMO literature, is unnecessary, is tactically unsound, and itself leads to a type of misdirection (allowing corporate shills to attack the argument on the basis that it contains deceptive FUD). Being aware of these issues can only strengthen our arguments against the corporate GMO regime.

        Comment by paper mac — November 10, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      • I agree with that, although I’m not sure where I’ve seen intentional deception. Everything I’ve read, as far as the health and environmental effects, basically wants to adhere to the precautionary principle.

        Thanks for wanting to clarify the argument.

        Comment by Russ — November 10, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  4. It really all comes down to education and localization with food dangers. If I know what to look for when I go to my local farmer for milk, meat, etc. it will be rather difficult for him to hide an unsanitary or inhumane set-up. If my family gets sick on the raw milk I buy ( or the backyard eggs I purchase from ordinary folks) I can go right to that farm and let them have it. I wouldn’t want to buy raw milk from a business like McAfee’s-it’s too big for my comfort thus providing a situation where somebody can make a serious mistake. Our raw milk farmer has stated that he would never have drunk the milk he produced on his former huge dairy farm.

    It’s really weird how people get into automobiles all the time without a moment’s thought of tthe huge risk they face, but not only are they terrified by a relatively low risk of sickness from farm fresh milk, they don’t believe others who are willing to take that risk ( after doing their research, I might add) should have the right to make their own decision.

    Let’s not totally give up on Joel Salatin.Anyone who calls the government the Evil Empire has to have something to offer.

    As always, an interesting and enjoyable post.

    Comment by DualPersonality — November 10, 2011 @ 7:30 am

    • Hi DP,

      Yes, McAfee basically wants to integrate raw milk into the existing corporate system. He doesn’t see it as part of a broad democracy movement, and he doesn’t believe in Food Sovereignty.

      Hopefully you’re right about Salatin, and this is just a piece of crankiness amid his general anti-system fight. Like I was saying to a good friend the other day, although we don’t need capital-L Leaders, we do need passionate articulate spokespeople. They need to speak, not to the government and corporate media, but directly to the people.

      Your point about food democracy including farmer transparency and accountability goes to the core of what food relocalization is all about. I haven’t read Omnivore’s Dilemma yet, but I understand that’s one of its core themes. (Too bad Pollan mysteriously stopped believing in that starting in 2009.)

      Thanks for the good words about the post. 🙂

      Comment by Russ — November 10, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  5. I am an ignoramus regarding all these differences between alleles and genomes, but I eat and also feed my young children food (well, what passes for it).
    It should not be up to the public to prove as guinea pigs the wonders or failures of GM foods. These scientific wunderkinds who are so pleased with themselves for outwitting God/Mother Nature, must prove the stuff safe and nutritious to we schlumps who don’t have the time to study all kinds of complicated sciences and sort out the truth from the lies.
    Hey humans, how about a little humility towards nature and the world in which we live?

    Comment by DualPersonality — November 10, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

    • The precautionary principle places the entire burden of proof upon the technician and profiteer to prove their alleged innovation is safe, rather than upon the involuntary recipient to prove it’s unsafe. The FDA and the US government in general have completely inverted this wherever it comes to the interests of big corporations. (Europe has been slightly better.)

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2011 @ 2:48 am

  6. Update: The “science-based public health” FDA in action:

    http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/antibitoitc-petitions-rejected/

    Comment by Russ — November 11, 2011 @ 11:13 am


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