I’m struck in some of the discussions on my recent postings about just how much rope some people are willing to give the government apologists. When I wrote about the stuttering stammering performance of a supposed public health expert about raw milk, Amanda Rose and cp2 thought I had gone too far in criticizing the poor guy because he couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence to back up his claim that raw milk is “deadly.” The data’s all in his packet of data, advised one. If you look there, you’ll see that he is, indeed, coherent. No, I’m afraid not. That packet of data is just a compilation of supposed illnesses from raw milk—some questionable and some for real.
I think it’s this desire to believe that’s behind the sometimes lengthy discussions that go on here about whether raw milk is, indeed, as dangerous as the officials would have us believe. Some people just want so badly to trust that the authorities have our best interests at heart. After all, they dedicate their lives to public service and science. They must know something.
Unfortunately, the real intent of many of these authorities is to scare and deceive us, not to protect us. Because the raw milk “problem” in the context of the whole of food-borne illness and public health as a whole is the equivalent of a pinprick.
So why do they want to scare and deceive us?
Here is where the latest action on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) becomes so important. It’s all about business—the business of business, and the business of control.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s Notice of Intent—even allowing for the fact that it is an argument on one side of an issue—is refreshing for its success in capturing the underlying issues. Steve Bemis summarizes it clearly following my previous post. They want to scare us into believing we need a totally unwieldy and intrusive system for tagging animals for the same reason they want to scare us about raw milk: so that big business can consolidate its factory-food path and government can move further down the road of ever-stricter control.
The primary obstacle in their path is the growing numbers of small sustainable farms, and the message they communicate about food and health. In the business scheme of things, small farms might be viewed as custom producers in a sea of factories.
Now, in most industries, the factories care little about the custom producers. The factories tolerate the custom producers as serving niche markets.
But in farming, it’s different. The problem with food is that it is such a staple, such a necessity. As much as agribusiness and government say all food is alike, growing numbers of people are coming to understand that is not the case. That truth is terribly threatening to the existing structure. The existing structure doesn’t like to be threatened. Expect this case to be fought tooth and nail every step of the way.