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 V.20 No.4 | January 27 - February 2, 2011 

Letters

The Scintillating Science Behind Raw Milk

Dear Alibi,

Over the years, Don Schrader's health advice has ranged from basically good (exercise more, eat more vegetables) to weird, but probably not harmful (drinking your own urine), to scary-wrong (sun exposure prevents HIV infection).

In his latest piece [Letters, “Milk Is for Babies,” Jan. 20-26] warning about the risks of milk consumption, Don repeats anecdotal information that is not backed up by any scientific evidence that I could find. Some of his claims are dangerously wrong. Certainly many people choose to avoid consuming dairy products for a variety of reasons and live healthy lives. The nutrients we get from dairy products can be gotten from other food sources. But many of risks Don lists—especially about pasteurized milk—are based on incomplete or simply fabricated information.

Nowhere could I find any convincing data that drinking pasteurized milk causes tooth decay in children. One decades-old European study found that children who drank raw milk had less asthma or eczema than those drinking pasteurized milk. But was it because they drank raw milk or because they lived on farms? Association does not equal causation. The dairy industry is not the only one that spreads "lies and propaganda." Many of the points made in Don's piece stem from anecdotes solicited from customers by companies looking to increase profits. One big source of these claims was Alta-Dena Certified Dairy, a raw milk distributor in the ’80s. This company was successfully sued for falsely advertising that its raw milk products were safe and healthier than pasteurized milk. In 1989, a California Superior Court Judge found: a) "overwhelming evidence proved that Alta-Dena's raw (unpasteurized) milk frequently contains dangerous bacteria that cause serious illness"; b) the company must stop its false advertising; and c) that the company's milk containers and advertising must carry conspicuous warnings for 10 years. The court order also required the dairy to pay $100,000 as restitution to a fund to fight consumer fraud.

There are no sanitation regulations or microbial standards for raw milk, which can contain harmful microbes such as E. coli O157:H7, Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, Shigella and Staphylococcus (aureus and pyogenes). These pathogens can variously cause illness, paralysis or sometimes even death. The milking process occurs in close proximity to lots of microbes, even if the cows are grass-fed and not coming from feedlots. That's where pasteurization comes in and is the reason why distribution of raw milk is illegal in many states. Goats' milk is easier for some people to digest, but if it's not pasteurized, goats' milk can also contain dangerous microbes. And baby cows thrive on pasteurized milk as well as raw milk, so not sure where he came up with that one.

There are various motives for spreading misinformation about health, so it's wise to educate yourself, considering data from different sources. (Even science!) There are pros and cons to consuming dairy, but after a careful cost/benefit analysis I've decided that mint chocolate chip ice cream and Gruyère cheese make it worth it.

Jill Gatwood

Milk Does a Body Good

Dear Alibi,

[Re: Letters, “Milk Is for Babies,” Jan. 20-26] Wow, what a sourpuss. Milk isn't bad for you—this guy must be some kind of disgruntled soybean farmer. Ominvores are able to eat all types of plants, meat and fluids to live. We need protein and dairy products are a great source. I've seen this notion that milk is only for babies—baloney. It is us humans that are intelligent enough to utilize the many options for different foods like milk. Milk is not just for babies, it is us humans that are smart enough to make cheese, ice cream that taste great.

JackieScmidts

Comment from alibi.com

The Iron Triangle

Dear Alibi,

[Re: Opinion, "El Machete Illustrated," Jan. 13-19] The editorial cartoon depicts the U.S. Armed Services holding hands with big business. If only it were that simple: the union of the Pentagon and business being the root of all our domestic and/or foreign policy problems.

The situation is more complex, actually, and therefore even more difficult for us as a nation and a people to reckon with. In my view—and Dwight Eisenhower’s view too, by the way—it is not a conspiratorial union between business and the armed forces. It is not just the “military-industrial complex.” It is the military-industrial-congressional complex—as Ike privately described it during his time in the White House. The “Iron Triangle” is the term now being used to describe the situation.

Some background: Members of Congress are beholden to their constituents, and this often means bringing jobs to their respective districts. If these jobs can be obtained, and then maintained, by means of federal government contracts—military or otherwise—then it is almost inevitable federal money will flow where Congressmen (and their constituents) want it to flow.

Ironically, the armed forces are sometimes supplied with weapons and technology they do not seek. Yet, jobs and the economy—and a particular Congressional district dependent on a particular federal contract—drive what is purchased for the various military services.

The B-1 bomber program in the late ’70s and early ’80s is a classic example of how the purchase of a particular weapon can be driven by concerns other than national security. Is the B-1 bomber vital to America’s security, either then or now? Hard to say. Another debate, another day ...

Nonetheless, it is a fact contracts and subcontracts were spread throughout the nation—intentionally or not—in a great many congressional districts. This made the B-1 weapons program harder to squash by anyone: general, admiral, president, Secretary of Defense or even a senator whose state did not happen to benefit from the purchase of the aircraft.

To my conservative friends and colleagues: Yes, I like the B-1 bomber. I am firmly convinced, however, this weapon—and every weapon—must be researched, developed and purchased with more than just the local economic concerns of a particular member of Congress.

Read Ike’s speech, especially the original version, which places blame on Congress as much as the Pentagon or business. As President and Commander-in-Chief, Eisenhower was frustrated by national security decisions being driven exclusively by a narrow view of what was deemed “good” for the economy.

As a retired career officer myself from America’s armed forces, my gut is to “blame” Congress for inappropriate military spending, and to fault business for being driven only by big profits at the expense of America. Yet, I must share the blame, too, along with my fellow Americans (whom I love), and our senators and representatives for looking only at the next election or the next fiscal year budget.

Harold W. Murphree

Sandia Park

Gubernatorial Flatulence

Dear Alibi,

Thanks for the article " Guv Sued Over Eco Rules" [News, Jan. 20-26]. Life on Earth faces the overwhelming threats of global warming and ocean acidification due to human releases of greenhouse gases. Business as usual just doesn't cut it anymore. But Martinez is clearly in the pocket of big business and against environmental regulations. What do we have to do? Impeach her?

B.W.Thompson

Oh, Yeaahh?

[Re: Blog, “House votes to repeal health care reform,” Jan. 19] Marisa bought the cool aid [sic]. The health care aka Obamacare is purely a move toward socialism. Socialism is total government control of everything. It has never worked in any nation ever and will not work here. The facts being introduced that it will save money is a total lie. The numbers from the government accounting office are very tainted and have no factual base. The main problem with Obamacare is that it has put such a burden on small businesses financially that they will simply close and you will not have employment. You must open up to other facts than what you prefer to hear! Atheism is the foundation behind socialism, thus first cousins to communism. If you vote for this type of government you will lose your freedom and will become slaves to the elite. Obama is not your friend, nor are his associations. His primary backer is George Soros who has destroyed the finances of several nations and wants to destroy America. Before you hate me do some Google searches on Soros.

jetguy

Comment from alibi.com

Film Industry in N.M. Facing Critical Threat

Dear Alibi,

[Alibi.com Forums, Jan. 24] The proposed idea of cutting the film incentives down to 15 percent is going to endanger the N.M. film industry. In many periodicals New Mexico has been voted as one of the top three places to film. Part of the reason we were ranked in the top three was due to the 25 percent incentives in place. From the get go, Gov. Martinez has been in opposition of the New Mexico film industry. Why is the film industry being singled out when $134 million of tax breaks were issued to the oil and gas industry? Not to mention her announcement of exemption for locomotive fuel to attract Union Pacific Railroad. Only half of that amount listed above went to the film industry. Vendors and small businesses are at a real risk of losing revenue. As displayed in a brief documentary I AM NM Film, going after this industry will have bad consequences for the local community. As someone who was born and raised in New Mexico, I never dreamed that I would be working for Marvel, DreamWorks or Sony as a makeup artist.

These are real jobs being threatened. Please come show your support at the roundhouse on Feb. 16 on Film and Media Day. In this economy, New Mexico can't afford to lose any more jobs or small business revenue. I'm going to end this letter from a great quote from House Minority Leader Thomas Taylor, R-Farmington: "Obviously, there is a much increased activity in the film production in New Mexico. An argument can be made, if you didn't have the subsidy they wouldn't make the film, so as a result you wouldn't get anything. If it's 25 percent, you're getting 75 percent of something you wouldn't have gotten otherwise."

Sara Roybal

Comment from alibi.com

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.
 
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