Monday, August 28, 2006

Better Than Regular

He're an admirably forthright headline from the conservatarian news outfit All Headline News:

Organic Milk No Better Than Regular But Double The Cost
Staff writer Megan Shannon goes on to claim, as promised, that organic milk is no better than regular milk, but costs twice as much:
There are four requirements milk must meet to be labeled organic. First, the cows the milk comes from cannot be injected with the bovine growth hormone used to make cows produce more milk. Second, the cows cannot be treated with anti-biotics. Third, the cows feed must be grown without the use of pesticide. And finally, cows that produce organic milk must have "access to the pasture."

Research has not yet supported that any of these requirements make the milk better for those who consume it.
Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't. On the other hand:
A study by Danish scientists last year showed that organic milk has higher levels of vitamin E, omega 3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants. The study found that organic milk was, on average, 50 per cent higher in vitamin E than conventionally produced milk, and 75 per cent higher in beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
Ms. Shannon's claims are especially dishonest and irresponsible in regards to antibiotic use. Here's a terse rebuttal from the University of Guelph, Ontario:
[T]he presence of antibiotic residues in milk is very problematic, for at least three reasons. In the production of fermented milks, antibiotic residues can slow or destroy the growth of the fermentation bacteria. From a human health point of view, some people are allergic to specific antibiotics, and their presence in food consumed can have severe consequences. Also, frequent exposure to low level antibiotics can cause microorganisms to become resistant to them, through mutation, so that they are ineffective when needed to fight a human infection. For these reasons, it is extremely important that milk from cows being treated with antibiotics is withheld from the milk supply.
As it happens, millions of pounds of milk are dumped annually because they're contaminated with antibiotics and are therefore unfit for human consumption. Unfortunately, "dumped" far too often means fed to calves:
Waste or discard milk cannot be sold for human consumption, because it comes from cows treated with antibiotics for mastitis or other illnesses. Discard milk losses range from 48 to 136 pounds of milk per cow per year (Blosser, 1979). To reduce some of the economic loss, 38 percent of dairy producers feed waste milk to calves (Heinrichs et al., 1994).
Obviously, the goal of producing antibiotic-free milk is shared pretty much across the board, at least in theory. Organic dairies simply take the expedient step of avoiding antibiotics from the outset. Which, if you're allergic, or concerned about the dangers of antibiotic resistance, makes properly produced organic milk a good deal better than regular.


Anonymous said...

ok, so maybe there is some rocket science to it.

Anonymous said...

but this is the really cool picture.

i'm not a veggo, but eating livestock is kind of disgusting.