Thursday, June 28, 2012

Apples to Apples, Dust to Dust

There's been a lot of noise on my twitter feed about dairy price fixing in Canada lately, mainly by economists. I have always found the dairy boards' practices to be heavy handed and protectionist. And anyone who lives in a border town can tell you that milk is clearly more expensive in Canada than the U.S., no matter what the DFO F.A.Q. says. But two things sharing the same name does not necessarily mean they are the same thing. So is there any difference in milk between Canada and the U.S.? I wrote the dairy board to ask and this is what they replied:

Growth hormones are illegal for dairy cows in Canada. No antibiotics in feed either. Antibiotics are used when a cow is sick and her milk is discarded at the farm– not sold – until there is no more residue from the antibiotic in her body.All milk is tested for antibiotic residues. A sample is taken at the farm, so if ever milk is “contaminated” with antibiotics, it is discarded, the milk is traced back to the farm that is culprit and severe penalties apply. 
Growth hormones are illegal and all milk is tested for antibiotics.

The same is not true in the U.S. where testing milk was only even suggested a little over a year ago and where growth hormone injections are legal. In Canada (and the E.U.), those hormones are illegal not because they make the milk unsafe for human consumption but because they endanger the animal's health and result in antibiotic usage. Read: rBGH promotes antibiotic resistent super bugs (not to mention the animal cruelty implications).

The point I am trying to make is this: in dismantling Canada's dairy cartels, it's important that we recognize the regulatory functions they currently serve and make sure that those functions are not dismantled along with the boards. Let's not throw the baby out with the "contaminated" milk.

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