A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

9 February 2017

Raw milk legalization hearing is today


At 1500, the Montana House’s agriculture committee will hear HB-325, Rep. Nancy Ballance’s (R-Hamilton) irresponsible bill to legalize certain sales of raw milk, an unhealthy substance that only zealots and fools drink or feed to their children. Ballance carried a functionally identical bill in the 2015 legislative session that almost passed. Two years earlier, Champ Edmunds almost got a raw milk legalization bill passed.

If history is any guide, dozens of earnest, self-confident, advocates of raw milk will stand before the microphone, extolling the virtues of drinking untreated milk, rejecting science, and quoting crackpot after crackpot. Some will attempt to frame the issue as a question of food freedom.

These testifiers and their friends already have flooded legislators with messages and phone calls, demanding that they vote for the bill.

What also hasn’t changed is that pasteurization is settled science — long settled science. It’s what high school students learn in every competently taught course on biology.

Furthermore, pasteurized milk is a tremendous public health success. Laws requiring pasteurizing milk are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and thousands of responsible scientists and health care professionals.

Legislators — all of whom presumably paid attention when pasteurization was discussed in their high school biology classes — have a duty to recognize that pasteurization is settled science and good public policy no matter how many lovers of untreated milk testify in support of HB-325, and no matter how many calls and letters praising raw milk they receive.

This is a public health issue. It is not a food freedom issue.

Another bill, HB-352, that will be heard next week, also would legalize some sales of raw milk.