File this under “further evidence to continually revise down expectations of humanity.” A Georgia GOP lawmaker drank raw milk, got sick after doing so, and proceeded to blame the capitol building for her sickness, calling the whole place a “big germ.” The lawmaker was doing this in celebration of a raw milk bill passing the state legislature, and apparently to show off her lack of medical knowledge.
It ain’t because of the raw milk,” the lawmaker told reporters. “With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call it a big germ. All that Capitol is is a big germ.
The bill is in response to activism by anti-pasteurization groups (yes, those exist) like the Georgia Alliance for Raw Milk, a libertarian fetish organization dressed up like an organic health group. This new Randian way to enjoy dairy is also under consideration in Louisiana, being framed as a campaign against an unlawful prohibition against raw, unpasteurized milk by the federal government. And it has already become law in states other than Georgia, like in West Virginia.
The logic for the raw milk crusade is far less a misguided health crusade and more about yet another right-wing attack on common sense regulation. Federal overreach, not health concerns, are what is most often cited by advocates of raw milk. And the movement has gone global, with “raw milk movements” in countries as far away as Australia.
There are obvious health risks associated with the consumption of raw and unpasteurized milk, with parents and children being the most vulnerable to the numerous infections it can carry, including a particularly aggressive and dangerous strain of E. Coli. One Maryland study showed that even limited and regulated legalization of raw milk could as much as double illness outbreaks (which in this case would still only be a small handful, but would likely lead to several deaths).
The great problem with raw milk lies in the other ninety percent of the equation when a consumer doesn’t know the product they’re purchasing is unpasteurized or doesn’t know the risks involved. Even if they are fully aware of the risks, the anti-vaccine craze has shown beyond a doubt that when one person gets sick from a disease society hasn’t been exposed to for a significant amount of time, they almost immediately put their entire community at risk.
But again, this isn’t about health, it’s about deregulation. Deregulation in the food industry and in many other areas appeals to left-leaning libertarians, which makes these movements particularly dangerous. Why deregulating the industry that makes our food might put untold numbers of Americans at risk should be too obvious a question to require explanation, and yet we are, as a society, so long past the era of regularly unsafe food that we forget how dangerous it is and how easily it can be a catalyst for the spread of epidemic disease.
Advocating for the sale of raw milk has wormed its way into the political consciousness of many on the left the same way almost every other bad political idea has been born in the past decade: Ron Paul came up with it and convinced his uninformed and easily manipulated army of internet activists that it was a wonderful idea.
Well, it’s not. It puts women’s’ lives at risk, it puts children’s’ lives at risk, but nonetheless, the sale of raw milk is legal in 29 states. This is a time bomb waiting to go off, and something has to be done about it.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr