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article imageDispute in Canadian court over raw milk

By Tim Sandle     Sep 28, 2016 in Health
Toronto - In Canada a group of farmers are locked in a legal dispute with officials over the right to produce and sell raw (unpasteurized) milk.
This week, at a meeting at the Ontario Court of Justice, a group of farmers walked away from the proceedings, claiming that ‘justice’ was not being fairly considered. The farmers were representatives of the group Our Farm Our Food, which is a cooperative organization.
This follows on from a decision made in January 2016 when York Region, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health filed an application to seek an injunction against the distribution or sale of raw milk in relation to specific farms. The farms included Glencolton Farms, and the Agricultural Renewal Coop. The application extended to anyone who provides, distributes or recommends raw milk.
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. This is a subject that has proponents on both sides. Those who promote raw milk state there are benefits to consuming raw milk; however, many in the medical community warn there are dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk, in terms of pathogenic bacteria. Globally the availability and regulation of raw milk varies between countries and even within regions. The sale of raw milk directly to consumers has been prohibited in Canada, under the Food and Drug Regulations, since 1991. However, this law has been regularly challenged, and there have been a spate of prosecutions against, members of the farming community.
With the court case, the main point of contention is that the farmers wish to have a conversation with Canadian government officials, from the Ministry of Health, about the ban on selling raw milk. However, the presiding judge said such dialogue was not possible.
The lead farmers, Elisa Vander Hout and Michael Schmidt, are set to explain their actions more fully at a press conference. This will outline why the farmers withdrew from the court proceedings. The farmers will also outline the next steps they intended to take to promote what they see as their rights to sell raw milk.
In a statement, reported by Newsweek, Elisa Vander Hout, who works at Glencolton Farms, said: “There is no justice in the courts. I would rather risk arrest than continue down this vicious cycle in the court system. The public needs to see what the Canadian government is doing here — they are criminalizing farmers and mothers, for choosing foods produced on our farms.”
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