How Will WI Raw Milk Opponents Choose to Fight? On the Issues, or via American-Style Fatwas?

The late Ayatollah Khomeini greeting supporters in Iran.Questions, questions. Here’s one before I get to those in the heading: What does raw milk have to do with genetically modified food?

I found myself asking that question as I read through the comments following my previous post about kombucha. They all seem to come down to the issue of trust. Lykke launched the debate when she said, “I could care less if something is GMO.”

Many of the objections that followed stem from the fact that most people on this blog care very much whether food is GMO, just as they care whether it is irradiated, treated with pesticides…or pasteurized. There is a fundamental mistrust of the health establishment—we know that just because they say certain processes or drugs are “harmless” doesn’t make it so. In fact, the reality may well be quite the opposite.

All of which brings me back to the new raw milk working group planned in Wisconsin, and a comment by Gary Cox of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund following my previous post: “It appears that most of the proposed members are either government anti-raw milk officials or are large scale agribusiness practitioners.”

I’ve heard that comment from a number of people familiar with the twenty individuals appointed to the working group. It doesn’t surprise me that Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) would try to stack the deck in favor of an agenda that, even if it recommends legalizing the sale of raw milk (not guaranteed), imposes such tight restrictions that the regulatory process becomes a means of harassing dairy farms and, in effect, making raw milk difficult to obtain—not unlike what New York has done to its raw dairy farmers via its tough inspections and continual findings of listeria in raw milk that makes no one ill.

Still, I’m optimistic about the opportunity that Wisconsin affords. Because it is such a huge dairy state, the DATCP working group could, in effect, set a precedent for negotiating raw milk availability nationwide. I see the working group as essentially a negotiating forum for setting up safety and distribution standards for raw milk.

The simple fact that it was established was a major concession by DATCP, an acknowledgment that it was under siege from outraged consumers and farmers, and needed to act before losing further credibility.

However, raw milk proponents will need to keep up the pressure. They will need to counter attitudes like those in Lykke’s comment following my previous post: 

“Perhaps change will happen when raw milk dairies embrace risk reduction and accept food safety as part of their culture (something the beef industry still can’t do and keeps getting in trouble for it)? At the same time there is a mentality that raw milk is incapable of doing this, and a desire among regulators to give up because y’all are just a bunch of crazy anti-government people not concerned about consumer safety. Wrong too? Wisconsin could be an interesting test case because both sides are pure.”

My sense is that no matter how loudly raw dairy farmers profess their interest in safety, the public health regulatory establishment won’t want to hear it. I predict that as the debate unfolds in Wisconsin, the vested interests will be working hard behind the scenes, bombarding working group members with fear mongering. It’s the type of fear mongering that food poisoning lawyer Bill Marler specializes in, and is currently trying to carry out against a Pennsylvania raw dairy selling raw milk via Whole Foods–a dairy that has committed itself to the highest possible safety standards.

If Bill Marler had bothered to listen to the video Whole Foods posted about Edwin Shank (whom I profiled last fall), he’d have learned that the farmer has committed to testing his dairy’s milk for pathogens far more often than required by Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture.

But Bill Marler isn’t interested in safety. He posted the first comment on the Whole Foods site containing the video, and he includes his standard bag of tricks: videos of people allegedly sickened by raw milk and a threat to sue Whole Foods for carrying raw milk. All of which has, not surprisingly, upset Edwin Shank a great deal. He wrote me today, referring to Bill Marler:

“It seems he somehow feels the need to create as much fear as possible. It is not that the videos are false information, but rather that they represent a phobic, unreasonable focus in one direction. Does he also feel compelled to show car wreck pictures and paralyzed children on ventilators when a car company comes out with a new model and is highlighting new and improved safety features that are even more than the government requires? Or ditto to spinach and beef vendors.
“I’ll have to admit it does anger and yet scare me a little. The injustice is so monstrous. The lawyers seemingly would just love to see someone get sick that also drank raw milk.” 

Absolutely correct, Edwin. I’ll go a step further. The reason “the injustice is so monstrous” is that Bill Marler has the regulators and judges in his corner. His threats remind me of what the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran did against the novelist, Salman Rushdie, in 1989. The Ayatollah issued a “fatwa” against him, essentially threatening him with death. Had Rushdie not lived in Great Britain, where he was given round-the-clock police protection, he might have been killed. So when Bill Marler issues his threats in the U.S. against a large retailer and a farmer supplier, it’s akin to a fatwa, a religiously-based threat. Go get ‘em, he’s saying to lawyers and regulators alike. But unlike Rushdie in Great Britain, Edwin Shank and Whole Foods can’t necessarily expect much in the way of protection from their country’s legal and public health establishments. (Of course, money counts for a lot here, so Whole Foods, if it so chooses, can try to defend itself against the army of lawyers and regulators swarming about.)

One final note: Bill Marler will likely respond by saying I don’t care about kids getting sick. It’s his standard response if you disagree with him on this subject. All I can say is that ever more consumers and farmers alike are beginning to see through the arrogance and fear-mongering he, Doug Powell, John Sheehan, and various others of America’s health establishment bring to bear.

The problem these people face going forward is that as more consumers become informed about the reality of the struggle over raw milk, and related issues like genetically modified food, they conclude they can’t trust the establishment to tell the truth. (You can see on the Whole Foods site, Bill Marler is the only comment of more than a dozen that expresses antipathy about Whole Foods carrying raw milk in Pennsylvania.) As the distrust spreads, the fear mongering sounds ever more hollow. That’s what I’m expecting will carry the day in Wisconsin.

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28 Comments on "How Will WI Raw Milk Opponents Choose to Fight? On the Issues, or via American-Style Fatwas?"

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Bill Marler
January 20, 2010 9:28 am

David – your personal attacks on me make you look smaller than you are. Your suggestions as to my motives, well, they are your opinion and they are wrong and offensive. All I can say is why I do what I do and be truthful.

I did all the research on the Pros and Cons of Raw Milk, and the look at the safety record of Raw vs Pasteurized Milk (much that you complemented me on I might add), because I wanted to get to the truth, or as close as humanly possible. Regarding the video and postings that I have done on the risks of raw milk, they have been done to try and make sure consumers understand the risks, along side the wonders of raw milk that take up many other websites. My goal is to limit the number of people sickened, and make sure those who poison their customers are held to account.

I know that you are obsessed with raw milk and so tend to believe other are too. However, I have treated other food products as harshly as I have raw milk and will continue to do so in the future.

Bob "BubbaBozo" Hayles
January 20, 2010 10:04 am

David, Marler is nothing but an ambulance chasing shyster who pretends to "care" about his clients, but who doesn’t give a damn about them past how much money he gets to add to his bank account. His videos are intended solely to appeal to heartstrings, and the truth be damned.

I stand by my previous description of him…[edited by The Complete Patient; there’s no outside pressure to edit out direct personal attacks on outside individuals, except my own standards.]

Bob Hayles

milk farmer
January 20, 2010 10:07 am

Bill, if you had the slightest clue about raw milk, and the benefit that it affords to the vast majority of the people who consume it, you wouldn’t be out there trying to put the fear of death, or financial ruin, in all who read your words. You serve no higher good, you deal not with safety but fear, and fear is not a weapon of someone who knows Love. Your ‘goal’ has nothing to do with limiting the number of those sickened, if it was you’d be working on the front end, rather than taking advantage of the odds, after the fact, on the back end… David has you pegged for the opportunist that you are. You wouldn’t know the Truth if it hit you upside your head. If karma is what karma does, you’ll get yours in the end…being afraid in your eternity.

Just a note for Lykke….this milk farmer isn’t anti-government….just anti THIS government. When a government fails to serve the people, and instead is manipulated by corporations and other big monied interests, that government doesn’t deserve respect (unless of course you are being well paid). And if you think that risk reduction and food safety isn’t an integral part of EVERY intelligent person that produces raw milk, you are the one that’s crazy. People lives and health are at stake everyday, twice a day, year round…and those that are doing it for the right reasons take it very seriously (especially the ones that are drinking it themselves and feeding it to their kids). You are an unreasonable liar, and try and cast the minority as the majority…your broad brush efforts (as well as Bill’s) to discredit those who really have the health of the population in mind when they do their ‘work’, is shameful.

As the lairs are exposed, the masses will learn truth.

Steve Bemis
January 20, 2010 11:41 am

Bill, your videos are anecdotes – lavish, expensive anecdotes. They are hoisted-up-the-litigation-flagpole stories of unfortunate cases. They are no more and no less. It appears you recognize this as you say, "they have been done to try and make sure consumers understand the risks, along side the wonders of raw milk that take up many other websites." So, fight anecdote with anecdote. Fair enough.

When you say that your "goal is to limit the number of people sickened," however, there can be no other logical consequence of these words than that you intend to "limit" by striking fear and simply limiting the number who drink raw milk. The assumption in your statement can be nothing other than, that all raw milk will hurt, so the fewer that drink it, the fewer will be hurt.

What part of any of your videos gives guidance to consumers who might want to try raw milk, but need information about how to meet and evaluate a farmer, his/her farm, or what part of any video helps any aspiring farmer to do it right? Only if such educational information were included could I think that you intend anything but scaring people away from raw milk.

It is this kind of not-so-subtle double-speak that drives people nuts.

It would be helpful if you just said what you really think, rather than parade the banner of educating. Your efforts in researching the pro’s and con’s were indeed thorough and admirable. However, I can take no conclusion from your statements other than your ultimate goal is that you intend to scare people into not drinking raw milk. How do your words mean anything else?

January 20, 2010 12:45 pm

"My sense is that no matter how loudly raw dairy farmer profess their interest in safety, the public health regulatory establishment doesn’t want to hear it."

Give me a break – show one example where raw milk advocates care about food safety other than Steve Bemis’ mostly ignored 11 Great Thoughts. Regarding the pathogen testing – what a joke. Every time you have an outbreak or a positive surveillance pathogen test, the raw milk movement gears up to deny it, says the testing is a government conspiracy, and then does absolutely nothing to identify and fix the problem. Geez, WAPF still says that the filthy conditions at Dee Creek and outsourcing at OPDC were perfectly acceptable in raw dairy farming, and had nothing to do with the serious suffering those dairies caused their consumers.

The whole situation makes me very supportive of litigation even though I generally believe strongly in personal responsibility.

Mark McAfee
January 20, 2010 12:55 pm

David….lit a powder keg this time…..I love it!! You make me proud!!

The posts at the Wholefoods website are awesome.

Suffice it to say that the people have handed Bill his ass and head back to him on a platter. The people are speaking and supporting their farmer and their store and there is nothing that Bill can do about it. His gory stories just do not work. People know that 5500 children died last year from asthma and that is just the tip of the body count on the Germ Theory Iceberg. None or nearly none of those kids would have died if they had been drinking raw milk. Bill is sickly twisted by what powers his will and soul. Bill come out from the dark side.

His compass is spun and he is in the clouds totally confused!!.

David, sorry you have to take the heat from Bill….let me share it with you a little.

Bill, The truth is the truth……far fewer people will die if more people have strong immune sytems and we get better standards for raw milk. This will happen if we have more clean raw milk not more black market raw milk or more dead immune depressing sterile foods and antibiotics.

An old saying…cleaniless may be next to godliness….but sterility is a prelude to death.

I helped Ed Shank years ago with some of his early raw milk thoughts….now he is on fire and I am so completely impressed and excited for him, he has his own happy consumers and his own local raw milk revolution. Bless you!!


Concerned Person
January 20, 2010 1:42 pm

David, you always blow things up so BIG and make drama where there doesnt need to be drama. Bill Marler does not support the retail sale of raw milk, but he does support regulated on the farm sales. Thats why he said what he said about Whole Foods Market.

I personally think the videos tell the story of why raw milk safety standards and practices are so imperative. Raw milk advocates would like to make this all about freedom of choice, but it is also about safety and providing raw milk customers accurate information on the pros and cons of drinking raw milk.

The videos are difficult to watch, but they must not be dismissed as some power ploy of Bill Marlers to defeat raw milk legislation in states seeking legalization. Maybe they come from the heart of a man who has absorbed intense suffering into his being over the last 17 years of his career. The videos bring you into his world and his reality. This isnt about raw milk per say. It is about pathogens and the deadly harm they can do to a human being. Raw milk happens to be a food that can host pathogens.

What would happen to the raw milk movement if David, Steve Bemis, the legal defense fund group and Bill worked together to create a safety model for raw milk? Lets stop all the name calling, insults and bickering and produce something positive for small farmers and raw milk consumers, but regulation will have to be a part of the plan.


David Kendall
January 20, 2010 2:28 pm


Contact Bill Marler, and identify yourself as Concerned Person. (Hes surely aware of you.) Suggest that he chat directly with the resident, reasonable lawyer Steve Bemis about creating this safety model. See if hes willing to do that. See how far hes willing to push us intransigents towards doing what’s right.

January 20, 2010 10:34 pm

"Regarding the video and postings that I have done on the risks of raw milk, they have been done to try and make sure consumers understand the risks, along side the wonders of raw milk that take up many other websites. My goal is to limit the number of people sickened, and make sure those who poison their customers are held to account."

Oh c’mon! Yours was the first comment on the Whole Foods site, the very first, so you’re prowling the net like an ambulance chaser to be first on the scene! The only reason you did it was to put your name up in the public sue-happy consciousness so in the unlikely event someone got even a stomach ache, your name would pop to the fore for them to call.

Be honest, because the last half of your last line of your comment here (again, the very first… prowling once again!) says it all:
"…and make sure those who poison their customers are held to account."

Talk about being obsessed with raw milk…

Devon Hernandez
January 21, 2010 12:28 am

Adding to my daily prayer list: that Bill Marler stays the hell out of Pennsylvania and away from our raw milk dairies.

Guess I’m making the 1 1/2 hour drive to Whole Foods in the next week to give some financial support to Ed Shank and telling WF with my dollars that they need to keep his milk on the shelf, even though I’m not a regular shopper (too far).

Lola – I did get your comment on the other day’s post, albeit late – thanks for your thoughts on the legal stuff.

As to Lykke and the food safety deal, most of the people on this blog have their heads in a local food system, especially one that includes access to raw milk, that garners a completely different food safety regimen than the corporate "phood safety" regulations in the filthy, broken globalized system we have now. You CANNOT apply the rules for one game to the other; they each need their own. But when you have agencies in place that only play by one rule book for both games, how is that fair? Why WOULDN’T you question the results? She, and others like her, can’t grasp the inherent differences and won’t, unless they jump ship. The motives, the science, and the faith in the respective systems are polar opposites.

January 21, 2010 12:59 am

It was the so called safe food that made our family sick and it was raw milk that restored our health. Fear mongering won’t and can’t keep the truth from getting out.

Mark McAfee
January 21, 2010 2:23 am


I challenge you to show the coffins of 5500 kids that died of Asthma in 2009 at your website.

That far outweights the few if any raw milk illnesses that you stuggle to find and promote.


Bill Marler
January 21, 2010 6:09 am

Ouch – I suppose if I had feelings they would be hurt.

From an offline discussion with David, I understand the issue is that he feels I am trying to drive small hard working farmers out of business. Actually, that is not the case. I simply want everyone to understand the risks. As you can see, I do it to small farmers and big meat companies:

As for talking about raw milk – I have never refused David’s calls and am happy to chat with Mr. Bemis or even Mr. Hayles. Mark, you can call too now that the litigation is over.

I thought my various posts on the pros and cons of raw milk and my posts on the risks of pasteurized vs raw milk were helpful to those that read them. I also thought the back and forth between Mr. Bemis and I a few posts ago helped clarify both his and my positions.

By the way, we raised nearly $10,000 for Haiti – thanks to those who post here for contributing.

Bill Marler
January 21, 2010 6:34 am

By the way – my direct line is 1-206-346-1890 and email is

January 21, 2010 10:58 am

"By the way, we raised nearly $10,000 for Haiti – thanks to those who post here for contributing."

Wonderful! Whatever all our raw milk and other food opinion differences, kudos to all who helped.

Concerned Person
January 21, 2010 11:41 am

Mark, the 5500 death figure you use is for all cases of asthma, all ages, in the US. It appears that around 175 kids die each year (under age 15) and around 450 people between the ages of 15-34 die. The remainder of victims, around 4375, are older than 34.

Each of these deaths from asthma is a tragedy. However, death from asthma can be prevented if controlled correctly. Some might say the same thing about raw milk. Death and illness from raw milk can be prevented by not drinking it.

Asthma is rarely fatal in children, with only 176 asthma deaths reported in 1999 in children under age 15. (About 444 fatalities occurred in people between ages 15 and 34.) But even these low numbers are unacceptable, since asthma deaths are largely preventable.

Deaths from Asthma: 5,637 deaths in 1995 (NHLBI); 4,657 deaths reported in USA 1999 (NVSR Sep 2001); approximately 5,000 deaths annually (NIAID)

Concerned Person
January 21, 2010 11:42 am

By the way, has anyone had the courage to contact Bill Marler?


Mark McAfee
January 21, 2010 12:10 pm


I plan on calling Bill and having a good old chat about how we can work together to promote prevention through solid nutrition. I am impressed and will compliment him on being such a standup guy inspite of his beating here and at Wholefoods website.

I am very concerned with the Fienstein food safety bill that mandates 5 five log reductions and sterile foods. I am a democrat…but now doubt my sanity when it comes to senator Feinstein. She must really be exposed to the sterile food drug lobby beyond my wildest imagination. Sterile foods are processed foods this is the origin of our American health crisis. Our health crisis is not because we do not have enough antibiotics or other drugs.

There is a reason why Amish kids suffer autism at 1 in 15, 000 births and the rest of America has a rate of 1 in 90 or worse. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Asthma, obesity, IBS and other immune and nutrition related illnesses are rampant…. nutrition is the basis of this crisis and more sterile foods lead to more of the same….this is the definition of insanity.

CP…even if we take your data and count the 175 kids that die of Asthma…..that is horrible and totally preventable if they drank raw milk. More drugs for Asthma kids does not relate to better survival numbers…it does relate to more dental carries from bone loss and immune destruction from the side effects of antibiotic use common for kids with Asthma. Super bugs come from conventional asthma treatment and super doses of antibiotics.

The only deaths counted at CDC for raw milk are maybe 2 in the last 30 years…maybe. The CDC data on raw milk illness is practically worthless because it commingles pastuerizer failures and raw thermalized cheeses. Pure CDC data on tested inspected raw milk does not exist….I am sure this is a Sheehan FDA stunt to confuse data and also confuse the discussion.

The PARSIFAL study in EU is not acceptable to the FDA so we have hundreds of Asthma deaths ( actually thousands… lets not dscriminate against older people that do just as well drinking raw milk to prevent asthma ) per year with proper drug treatment.

I guarantee you that if raw milk killed 175 people per year….it would not be in our discussion right now. The facts are clear….raw milk does not kill. It builds immunity and protects against illness very effectively. Yes…immunity takes effort and perhaps some people struggle to build immunity but raw milk does build immune systems very well.

I am going to call Bill. I want to try my best to recruit him for the raw milk fight. His voice is needed and he is bright enough to listen and learn. His paycheck is assured by CAFO beef for years to come. I want to get good standards in place to secure good quality raw milk for all Americans that choose it. Bill can help get this done. He is the kind of guy that likes a fight and likes one with purpose.


January 21, 2010 12:32 pm

Mark and cp:

This is what the authors of the PARSIFAL study said, and they very clearly do not promote raw milk for childhood asthma treatment:

"In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that consumption of farm milk is associated with a lower risk of childhood asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis. These results might be transferred to non-farming populations as they were observed in all subpopulations of the PARSIFAL study. Dietary interventions are an attractive means for primary prevention. However, raw milk may contain pathogens such as salmonella or EHEC, and its consumption may therefore imply serious health risks. A deepened understanding of the relevant protective components of farm milk and a better insight into the biological mechanisms underlying the reported epidemiological observation are warranted as a basis for the development of a safe product for prevention. At this stage, consumption of raw farm milk cannot be recommended as a preventive measure."

Mark – you should at least find a study that actually agrees with your marketing idea.

Sylvia Gibson
January 21, 2010 1:17 pm

Standard treatment is give enough drugs to prevent exacerbations of the chronic respiratory diseases, not search out a cause. Then you have to give more drugs to treat the side effects. Exacerbations are treated with steroids/antibiotics, over time you may develop drug induced diabetes, and antibiotic resistant infection, inhalers: yeast in your mouth, throat, vocal cords, esophagus,osteoporsis, adrenal insufficiency and a host of other drug induced diseases.

So which is the least of side effects? Drugs? Raw milk? Both can kill, both can maim….

Consumers are NOT informed in detail of the drug side effects, if they were then even more people would be non-compliant.

Don Wittlinger
January 21, 2010 7:50 pm
Big Benefits Are Seen From Eating Less Salt by Pam Belluck
Recent "study" indicates that up to 92000 thousand American lives could be saved yearly if one consumed 1/2 teaspoon less of "salt" per day. However they omit what kind of salt was used in the study. Was it the counterfeit demineralized white stuff sold in the super markets or the colored real salt with the 80 or so minerals naturally found in it before the extraction by industry takes place. Same story as raw milk
There is a monumental difference between REAL MILK REAL SALT REAL MONEY AND ALL THE COUNTERFEIT REPLACEMENTS but few can see it and worse yet the so called LEARNED promote it and they to enforce their flawed policies upon us all!

Don Neeper
January 21, 2010 10:18 pm


I have copies of both the published PARSIFAL paper ("Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe") AND the final report submitted to the EU containing the raw data from which the published paper was derived. ("Final Report PARSIFAL Prevention of Allergy – Risk factors for Sensitisation In children related to Farming and Anthroposophic Lifestyle")

According to the final report, 2,876 "farm children" children in Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland participated in the survey, and 1,414 of them submitted blood samples to the database. This is the population of children in the study who consumed raw and "farm" milk on a daily basis. The study ran for four years, and nowhere in the raw data for the study is there any indication of pathogens, sickness or any ill effects in this group of children.

Furthermore, the final report submitted to the EU does not contain the prohibition against drinking raw milk found in the published paper. The final paragraph in the Conclusions section of the final report simply states "In conclusion the PARSIFAL study confirms that there is a protective effect from a farming and anthroposophic lifestyle for the development of allergy. Extensive ongoing analyses will further study the role of specific environmental and life style factors for this effect."

The admonition against raw milk consumption was bolted onto the end of the published paper without any supporting evidence in the raw data. My suspicion has always been that the admonition was tacked on as the result of political pressures to avoid giving the appearance of supporting widespread raw milk consumption.

Don Neeper
January 22, 2010 12:44 am

I have a hard copy of the final report to the EU, but I was able to find the electronic copy again at the following link:

January 22, 2010 4:20 am


Thanks for the link! Interesting report/study. It is also interesting to compare the conclusions from their manuscript to the conclusions in the final report. Basically, in the final report they give no recommendations either way. They do not recommend against drinking raw milk, nor do they specifically recommend using raw milk to treat allergic conditions.

"In conclusion the PARSIFAL-study confirms that there is a protective effect from a farming and anthroposophic lifestyle for the development of allergy. Extensive ongoing analyses will further study the role of specific environmental and life style factors for this effect."

Furthermore, raw (farm) milk was not the only protective factor for asthma. It would appear that getting a pig, visiting the barn and feeding silage might do the same trick. Or maybe it’s the combination.

"It appears that children from farms with pigs and farm children who have daily visits to the barn or who consumed farm milk during the first year experience lower risks of many of the studied health outcomes. Few of the other farming characteristics show consistent associations. Using silage as animal feeds and having pigs appeared as protective factors for asthma. Further analyses of the possible factors behind the protective effect of farming on the risk of development of allergic disease and sensitisation are under way."

Don Neeper
January 22, 2010 5:30 am

That is interesting, because the Discussion area of the published paper seems to contradict those results:

"The analyses of the large cross-sectional study PARSIFAL give evidence of a significant inverse association between farm milk consumption and childhood asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, sensitization to pollen, a mix of food allergens, and horse dander. Other farm-produced foods were not independently related to asthma and allergy prevalence. Of particular importance is the consistency of the findings across children from farming, rural non-farming, anthroposophic, and (sub)urban environments indicating that farm milk consumption represents a route of exposure that is independent of concomitant exposures to microbial compounds present in animal sheds and farm homes. The inverse association was not explained by concurrent farm activities of the child or farm exposures during pregnancy and was most pronounced in children drinking farm milk since their first year of life."

I guess that conclusion is not quite exactly the same as the statement you found in the final report, but the published paper seems to be saying that simply being exposed to farm microbes or performing farm-related activities did not confer any protective benefits. I’ll have to review the final report in more detail to try to determine why it seems to say that exposure to pigs and silage was beneficial while the published paper seems to say that simply being on or near a farm doesn’t provide any benefits.

Don Neeper
January 22, 2010 5:41 am


I found the paragraph you quoted repeated almost verbatim in the final report conclusions, however it was preceded by the disclaimer that the "analyses are still in progress and the results presented here should be considered preliminary. For the farm children, we found that children living on farms with pigs and farm children who have daily visits to the barn and those who consumed farm milk during the first year or home made dairy products generally have lower risks of atopy outcomes. Few of the other studied farming characteristics seem to show consistent effects."

It sounds like the authors may have revised their conclusions and by the time they published their paper decided that exposure to pigs and silage was not significant.

January 22, 2010 9:04 am


This is the point where we probably agree to disagree. It is a fascinating study, and I’d like to see similar work in the US. However, the data in my mind isn’t compelling enough to recommend raw milk for the purpose of asthma or other treatments, especially for non-farm family people. You and others may come to a different conclusion. That’s fine. But, in marketing raw milk, it is wrong to ignore the authors’ conclusions in the manuscript: "At this stage, consumption of raw farm milk cannot be recommended as a preventive measure."

Perhaps the conclusions were a vast international government conspiracy, but I don’t believe that the authors, journal editors, and peer reviewers were all subject to such a conspiracy. On the other hand, conspiracy theories cannot be argued. Thus, we should agree to disagree. And, the science world will continue to correct the misinformation (or left out information) in the marketing of raw milk so consumers can make truly informed choices.

Don Neeper
January 22, 2010 10:19 pm


I don’t necessarily believe in a "vast" government conspiracy, but I can visualize certain authors and editors practicing "c.y.a" when it comes to associating their names with raw milk consumption. :-)

I just think that it is interesting that the final report submitted to the EU did not contain the proscription against raw milk consumption, and that raw milk is readily available from vending machines in some European countries.